Ollie Pope leads and offers hope to England against India with a magnificent century.

Though at times it seems ludicrous, the England camp’s rhetoric obviously has value on the inside. This third day in Hyderabad was handled as though the memory of the first two had vanished like a politician’s WhatsApp messages; Ollie Pope had produced a magnificent century of resistance against India at a time when all hope appeared to be dead.

At the end, with England reaching 316 for six and 126 runs up on a field that had yet to crack, it remained to be seen if this would amount to anything other than a 1-0 lead for the hosts. However, they should be commended for the fact that nothing was resolved; the architect was among the participants who appeared so disoriented during that depressing pandemic visit to India three years prior.

Pope brushed off everything India gave at him in two sessions. This was quite an effort, especially considering that Jasprit Bumrah’s absolutely exceptional reverse swing burst after lunch sent Ben Duckett’s off-stump crashing and eliminated Joe Root leg before wicket. Pope had achieved his sixth Test century an hour earlier with a wing-heeled rush for three and a radiant smile, and at stumps he remained undefeated on 148 from 208 balls.

Axar Patel gave away a life on 110 when he lost a dolly at backward point, and there was a shaky under-edge between the wicketkeeper and slip on the second ball. However, Pope was the one who raced to 50 from just 54 balls at first, instead of the preceding Indian pauper, and then slowed down to play the lengthier game. England continues to emphasize that they are more adaptable than people realize.

Unlike in India, Duckett’s sly 47 had established the tone earlier, so the sweep was a bountiful source of runs here. Naturally, Ben Foakes was crucial to Pope’s success, reaching a dangerous 163 for five and adding 102 runs with his low-slung hands and a composed head. Though Foakes was bowled painfully by a shooter from Patel at number 34, the latter could not provide complete protection. It was one of the few gremlins that day.

Rather, it was the youthful Rehan Ahmed who supported Pope till the end, scoring an additional 41 runs to cap a 144-run session that had finally caused Rohit Sharma and his team to take a second look. Considering how quickly India had destroyed Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow earlier, increasing the possibility of a three-day finish, this situation was definitely not in their script.

The morning saw the start of the pushback, with England winning the opening session with their eighth try and it was also rather clean. They removed 89 of them for the loss of a single wicket before lunchtime after mopping up India’s lower order to limit the gap to 190 runs. Here, Root was the driving force, scoring four wickets for 79 runs in only 29 overs and securing a spot for many more on this trip in the process.

With the help of Mark Wood and the umpires, Root was able to dismiss Ravindra Jadeja for 87 when the all-rounder’s front pad was struck by a sinking ball. While uncertainty existed—possibly an inside-edge that tickled at the same time—third umpire Marais Erasmus stood by his colleague by putting his finger up on the field.

After Jadeja was out of the picture, Root quickly castled Bumrah to set up a hat-trick ball that Mohammed Siraj narrowly managed to squirt safely away. Rather, Ahmed was the one to end the match, taking over for the injured Jack Leach after only one over and scoring a run off Patel’s bat. Even with 436 players out, India was still far ahead.

Then, two openers who were somewhat responsible for the big public statement—Duckett and Zak Crawley—brought their best game and came out of the traps. With Duckett playing with Patel at the other end with his bat, um, rather horizontal, Ravichandran Ashwin was coaxing an edge to slip, so Crawley could not make it to the interval.

In comes Bumrah, who after receiving a ball that appeared to have been damaged by repeated contact with the LCD advertising boards, proceeded to swing late and sharply for five overs that appeared to be a game-winning two-wicket spell. This impressive display of Indian tamasha left the 28,000 spectators completely captivated by the skill of Sharma’s leading man.

Duckett managed to get away with a single leg-before-bow call, which went unchallenged as Hawkeye showed three reds. After that, his stump veered backwards in an effort to make a bold drive, and Root played around one. Pope, on the other hand, was just about to remove the yorkers from his toes as he anxiously anticipated the sweet comfort of seeing India’s spinners return on both ends.

Naturally, Bairstow’s confusion after bowling for ten when he initially witnessed Jadeja rag one square before abandoning the subsequent arm-ball sums up the lack of such a thing. In addition, Stokes was quiet, giving way to Ashwin for the record-breaking 12th time in Test cricket when he played inside an off-break on wicket six.

Rather, the vice-captain of England was able to subdue the duo, advance this Test match into its fourth day, and demonstrate why part of the discussion is not naive optimism.

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