On the third day in Hyderabad, England’s bowlers orchestrated a decisive dismantling of India’s tail, followed by their batsmen strategically amassing a lead of 126 by stumps. The initial phase of the game positioned the touring side favorably, but an abrupt loss of three pivotal wickets swayed the match back into India’s grasp. Nonetheless, an extraordinary display by Ollie Pope, complemented by Ben Foakes, not only salvaged the situation but also established a lead that bestowed upon England a tenacious fighting opportunity.
A captivating third day in Hyderabad concluded with England securing a commendable lead of 126 runs. Moments surfaced when it seemed doubtful if they could even surpass India’s formidable first-innings total.
The limelight and narrative of the day were dominated by Ollie Pope and his remarkable, unbeaten 148 off 208 deliveries, constituting nearly half of England’s cumulative score of 316 runs. While Pope showcased individual brilliance, credit must be given to his county comrade Ben Foakes and the 19-year-old Rehan Ahmed for their supportive roles.
Pope’s masterful innings were set in motion by a clinical display of bowling prowess in the morning session. Had India’s lower order displayed greater resilience, England might have struggled to muster the resilience needed to reposition themselves in the game. The opening hour witnessed India losing their last three wickets for a mere 15 runs added to their overnight total. Joe Root’s back-to-back wickets and Rehan’s dismissal of Axar Patel for 44 exemplified England’s bowling efficiency.
England’s opening duo, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett wasted no time in confronting the new ball. They adeptly navigated Ravichandran Ashwin’s threats, accumulating 45 runs off 56 deliveries. Crawley’s departure, caught off an edge at slip while playing a defensive shot to Ashwin marked the initial setback.
Ollie Pope, adopting a similarly aggressive approach, quickly matched his partner’s score, favoring the reverse sweep as his primary shot of the day. Duckett survived an LBW decision, unreviewed by India, and despite losing him shortly after, England managed to add significant runs to their total in the ensuing two overs.
The loss of Duckett became a turning point in the innings, if not the match, as Bumrah dismissed Root for a meager two runs in six balls. Despite Root’s unsuccessful LBW review, which Hawkeye confirmed hitting the stumps, the wickets kept falling. Bairstow, deftly avoiding Bumrah’s traps, fell to Jadeja’s clever delivery, and Stokes, deceived by Ashwin’s late movement, saw his stumps shattered.
Pope, having reached his half-century, and Foakes, batting cautiously, steered England through the perilous situation to tea. Pope, armed with a clear mandate to play assertively, continued his assault with the reverse sweep, contributing significantly to England’s score.
As the final session commenced, England leveled with Pope at 77 and Foakes at 10, showing promise but needing more. Foakes, known more for his wicketkeeping prowess, found his rhythm, even employing the sweep to secure boundaries.
The match’s highest partnership propelled Pope to his maiden century in India, exploiting the aging pitch to frustrate India’s bowlers.
Pope’s audacious boundary off Axar marked the end of their 112-run partnership. However, Foakes fell victim to Axar’s low delivery, losing his stumps. With Rehan Ahmed entering the scene, England held a lead of 70 – respectable but not yet competitive. The 19-year-old showcased composure, swiftly reaching a classy boundary through a point on his third ball.
With only ten overs remaining, the question lingered on whether this pair could endure until stumps and the magnitude of the lead they would amass. They affirmed the former and concluded the day with a more than respectable 126-run lead, as Pope finished unbeaten on 145.
Joe Root praised the day as “a brilliant day’s cricket,” commending England’s clinical approach with the ball. He lauded Ollie Pope’s innings as “an absolute masterclass on scoring runs in this part of the world.”
While India remains the favorite, England, from the brink of a potential defeat, now holds a fighting chance.