Ollie Pope marked his return to England duty with a long-awaited fifty as he guided England into a first-innings lead in the fourth Test against India at the Oval on Friday after a top-order collapse.
England were 227-7 at tea on the second day, 36 runs ahead of India’s 191, with the intriguing five-match series all square at 1-1.
Pope, only recalled because Jos Buttler missed the match on paternity leave, was 74 not out on his Surrey home ground.
It was Pope’s first half-century in 16 Test innings since a 62 against Pakistan in Manchester last year.
This knock also extended his excellent record at the Oval where, prior to Friday, he had scored 1,410 runs at an average of 100.71 in 18 first-class innings.
England were in deep trouble at 62-5 after losing two wickets early in the day. But Pope’s partnerships of 89 with Jonny Bairstow (37) and 71 with Moeen Ali (35) wrested the initiative from India.
England resumed Friday on 53-3 after fit-again India all-rounder Shardul Thakur had struck a 31-ball fifty — the fastest in terms of balls faced in a Test in England.
That helped get India near 200 after they had collapsed to 127-7, with Chris Woakes the pick of the England bowlers.
England needed a significant innings from someone other than in-form captain Joe Root after the world’s top-ranked Test batsman had been bowled by Umesh Yadav for 21 on Thursday.—AFP