“Ollie Pope Rescues England: A Glimpse of Miracle in Hyderabad against India’s Spinners”

Ollie Pope

Very few people have played the reverse sweep with as much flair and authority as Ollie Pope did in front of 30,000 mesmerized fans in Hyderabad.

Sachin Praised Ollie Pope

Almost three years ago, Ollie Pope stylishly scored 91 runs – his second-highest Test score – garnering unexpected praise from none other than Sachin Tendulkar, who tweeted that it seemed Pope had emulated Ian Bell’s batting style. The Indian maestro remarked, “His stance and footwork look exactly like Ian Bell’s.”

Ollie Popes Batting

England’s renowned right-handed batsman, Bell, boasts an impressive average of 42.69 with over 7,000 runs in 118 Test matches, holding the record for the highest individual score of 235 and 22 centuries. So, comparing a young player in his tenth Test match to such a cricketing stalwart should be done with caution. But Ollie Pope’s innings in Hyderabad against India showcased a new facet of his batting prowess, leaving even supporters of the home team in awe.

During the first Test against India in Hyderabad, on Saturday afternoon, Tendulkar was enlightened about Ollie Pope’s second side. Known as a shaky starter 26-year-old with past struggles against Ravichandran Ashwin, Pope displayed mastery at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium.

Ravichandran Ashwin took Ben Stokes

This was no ordinary masterpiece easily replicated. It was not crafted around traditional cover drives, crispy back-foot cuts, and elegant flicks around the meaty part of the bat. It wasn’t dictated by time and place either. Rather, it was based on the reverse sweep, a tool that rattled India’s three-pronged spin onslaught.

Reverse Sweep

The reverse sweep is not a novelty in Test cricket, not since England redefined its perspective after the scorching summer of 2022. However, very few have wielded it with as much frequency and authority as Pope did, resonating with 30,000 enchanted fans – to the extent that even most supporters of the home team couldn’t help but admire his artistry.

Responding to critics and turning the tables

Ollie Pope’s record against India isn’t stellar. Before his magnificent 148, he had only managed to score 50 runs once in 16 innings – with his previous high being 34 – and had fallen to Ravindra Jadeja’s delivery in the first innings. He had previously been disturbed by Ashwin, which led to doubts in his footwork and movements that exposed him. 

Commentators and experts both inside and outside the commentary box were skeptical about what lay ahead, and they had every reason to be.

Boom Boom Bumrah

However, today’s Ollie Pope is different from the hesitant figure of the past. Seven months ago, he dismantled Ireland with a quickfire 205 runs off 208 balls at Lord’s. But this was India, and England was in dire straits at 190 for 9, with one gun spinner eyeing him with anticipation. Many believed Pope was a walking wicket against spin. How wrong that perception turned out to be.

With a splendid cover drive off Akshar Patel’s delivery, he wasted no time in asserting himself. Then came an off-drive against Ashwin, and soon after, an inside-out shot that caught the eye. Ollie Pope was advancing with confidence, showcasing impeccable footwork and decisiveness.

Until he reached the twenties, Pope hadn’t attempted the reverse sweep. When the ball sped towards the third-man fence, Jadeja watched in disbelief. After displaying his hand, Pope remained consistent and continued to dominate on the unturned surface. It wasn’t his only productive stroke, he often used his feet brilliantly, not just for full-on shots but also to loft over mid-wicket and make innovative use of his supple wrists.

His 17 boundaries were all different and praiseworthy, including a remarkable no-look reverse ramp over point that even Ashwin would have appreciated.

England needed someone who could put their back against the wall and deliver. Jack Crawley and Ben Duckett had done it for a while, but cameo performances weren’t enough. With his fearless and versatile strokeplay, Pope entered the fray on the left side of the stage. For over four hours, he held fort at the center, forming a formidable partnership with Ben Foakes.

Foakes contributed 163 runs at the fall of the fifth wicket, leaving England needing just 27 more runs to bat again. Drawing inspiration from his partner’s magic, Foakes, for over 100 minutes, kept the opposition on tenterhooks.

Pope made his only misstep when he attempted a reverse sweep against Ashwin on 110, mistiming it to short third man. There’s little doubt that this won’t deter Pope from deploying the same stroke for the rest of the series. Time and again.


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