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Pope's Pardons: Ollie's twin follies grab eyeballs on Day 1 of 3rd Test between India and England

Ollie Pope endured a day with a sliver of hope amid a bucket of disappointment.
Ollie Pope endured a day with a sliver of hope amid a bucket of disappointment.
ANALYST
Modified 24 Feb 2021
Feature

The LED lights of the newly christened Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad shone down on Ollie Pope a tad brighter than the rest. After losing his off-stump to India's Ravichandran Ashwin earlier in the day for just one run, the 23-year-old alternated between a flash of brilliance and a moment of ordinariness in the final session.

As England laboured on in the second innings of the third Test match against India, throwing all they had to offer on a pitch that misbehaved from Day 1, they needed some help from their fielders.

After a miserable day with the bat, England sniffed an opportunity as they got India's rock Cheteshwar Pujara out for a four-ball duck. It was at this point that India's limited-overs stalwarts, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, began to dominate proceedings with a brisk partnership.

By the end of day's play, Pope had dropped both of India's top-order enforcers. While Kohli's drop did not cost England much, every run that Rohit scores hereon will make England think - what could have been had this catch stuck?


Act 1: Pope drops Rohit Sharma off Jack Leach

Rohit Sharma continued the good form he showed in the second Test in Chennai.
Rohit Sharma continued the good form he showed in the second Test in Chennai.

Left-armer Jack Leach was attempting to channel his inner Axar Patel, as his team wanted him to run through the line-up like the local boy did. Having seen the back of Pujara earlier, surely the less dogged Rohit should have provided less of a challenge?

With the opener batting on fifty, Leach started floating the ball up in the 29th over and getting it to turn away after pitching on middle. Rohit resisted for two balls, solidly defending towards the off side.

Both bowler and batsman knew something was on its way, and sure enough, Rohit attempted a sweep next ball. Out of nowhere, a flying, outstretched hand snatched at the ball - dropping the catch eventually, but leaving everyone in awe. How did Pope manage that?

Replays showed Pope's anticipation at short leg. Seeing Rohit shape up to play the sweep, he started moving in the direction of the shot, and launched himself in expectation of the catch. Short leg is reserved for youngsters, and Ollie Pope must rank somewhere among the finest to occupy that position.

Though Rohit was still out there, there were smiles on Pope's face. Not for long, however.


Act 2: Pope drops Virat Kohli off James Anderson

Anderson was unlucky to miss out on the prized scalp of Kohli.
Anderson was unlucky to miss out on the prized scalp of Kohli.

James Anderson last dismissed Virat Kohli in 2014, during the Indian captain's worst overseas tour till date. Since then, Kohli has dominated the rivalry between the duo. Returning to the side for the third Test, Anderson sniffed an opportunity to set the record straight, and the third session of Day 1 provided him with it.

Merely four balls after his miracle catch-that-wasn't, Ollie Pope received a shot of nothingness from Kohli - a half-hearted attempt at guiding a bouncer over the slips with very little control. Unlike the previous opportunity, which was entirely manufactured, here was a straightforward albeit quick chance, coming at a catchable height.

Unfortunately for Pope, the pink ball couldn't stick this time either. English shoulders dropped as the ball popped out of Pope's hand, as the Indian captain got a life. Cameras caught Pope's fingers bleeding shortly after the dropped chance, only adding pain to a miserable feeling.

Though Jack Leach did provide relief by dismissing Kohli shortly after, Pope left the field bruised and demoralised. His highs and lows were rendered meaningless, and his team is staring at a mountain to climb on Day 2.


Published 24 Feb 2021
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