Pope shines before India start fightback against England

By Sports Desk September 03, 2021

Ollie Pope's excellent 81 had England in a healthy position on day two of the second Test before India finished strongly to leave the match deliciously poised going into the weekend.

With England reeling at 62-5, Pope shared stands of 89 and 71 with Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali at The Oval, while a quickfire half-century from Chris Woakes led the hosts to 290 and a 99-run first-innings lead.

But Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul made it to the close unbeaten, with India at 43-0 in their second innings and aiming to build a lead on day three in a fourth Test that could still go either way.

England were in a worrying position when nightwatchman Craig Overton and birthday boy David Malan departed to the impressive Umesh Yadav in a bright start to the morning session for the tourists.

But India soon lost their discipline, with Pope – playing his first Test of an excellent series – fluently turning the tide, aggressively hitting Shardul Thakur for four three times in the same over.

Bairstow (37) looked in the mood too, only to be trapped lbw before lunch by Mohammed Siraj. Moeen (35) took up the mantle but cheaply slogged a slower Ravindra Jadeja delivery to the covers.

Pope remained stubborn in his resistance until he dabbed at a Thakur outswinger and edged onto his wickets.

Woakes continued to frustrate India, though, and a valuable 35-run 10th-wicket stand alongside James Anderson – who contributed a solitary run to the effort – left England with a decent lead.

By the close India had chipped their arrears down to 56, with Rohit surpassing 15,000 international career runs and unbeaten on 20 alongside Rahul (22).

POPE TO THE RESCUE

Prior to Friday's play, Pope had reached 50 on nine occasions at his home ground in first-class cricket, converting seven of those knocks to centuries.

His latest half-century did not lead to three figures, but had it not been for his measured display then the outlook of this Test would have been looking significantly bleaker for Joe Root's men.

Before the start of play, Pope was averaging 100.71 in first-class matches at The Oval, and he stepped up again.

WOAKES A DIFFERENCE MAKER AGAIN

Returning to the Test arena for the first time in over a year, Woakes made up for lost time with four wickets on day one on Thursday.

His contribution with the bat here was just as valuable. Having been on course at one stage to be trailing after the first innings, Woakes' knock of 50 – which came off 60 balls and contained 11 fours – added to the foundations Pope had built for England.

Related items

  • Malone lauds MVP Jokic for inspiring Nuggets win over Pelicans Malone lauds MVP Jokic for inspiring Nuggets win over Pelicans

    Michael Malone says Nikola Jokic gave another demonstration he is "one of the better clutch players in the NBA" after he inspired the Denver Nuggets to a win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Reigning MVP Jokic scored a season-high 39 points to go with 11 assists and 11 rebounds in a 120-114 overtime victory in Louisiana on Wednesday.

    Jokic came up with the first 11 points for the Nuggets in the extra period to give them a cushion, and Denver head coach Malone hailed the Serbia star after his side moved to 12-12.

    Malone said: "He's not going to out-quick you, he's not going to out-jump you. He's going to out-skill you, he's going to out-smart you, and he does it so methodically.

    "He's one of the better clutch players in the NBA in the last five years, and tonight we saw many more examples of that."

    Jokic's triple-double was the 61st of his career and a fourth this season. He is eighth on the all-time list, two ahead of the great Larry Bird and one behind James Harden. Russell Westbrook leads the way on 189.

    He said in his on-court interview: "It felt good. The team believed in me. The coach drew a couple of plays for me. The ball went in and we just kept rolling.

    "Bottom line, I think they really trust me and I'm really comfortable taking shots in those situations."

    Denver face the San Antonio Spurs (8-15) on Thursday.

  • Ashes 2021-22: Head hits a century as Australia take control Ashes 2021-22: Head hits a century as Australia take control

    Travis Head hit his first Ashes century as Australia reached 343-7 to take control of the first Test in Brisbane.

    Head's place in Australia's line-up was under some scrutiny heading into the series, but the decision to give him the nod over Usman Khawaja paid off emphatically and he is still in place on 112 not out heading into day three.

    His century came after David Warner fell just short of a ton, striking 94 before falling to Ollie Robinson, the pick of England's bowlers with 3-48.

    A blow to the underside of Head's chin from an errant Mark Wood delivery could not even dampen Australia's mood.

    England were desperate for a fast start after a nightmare opening day at the Gabba, where the tourists were skittled for 147.

    Joe Root's men got what they wanted – Ashes debutant Robinson making the early breakthrough when he had Marcus Harris (3) caught at slip.

    Ben Stokes knocked over Warner for 17 but he was afforded a reprieve with a no-ball call, while Marnus Labuschagne's edge fell agonisingly short of Root.

    Warner was granted two more lives following lunch – Rory Burns dropping a routine catch on 49, while the opener was stranded outside his crease on 60 – but Jack Leach's dismissal of Labuschagne sparked England.

    Four wickets in the space of eight overs followed. Warner, Cameron Green (0) and Steve Smith (12) all sent to the pavilion as Robinson just missed out on a hat-trick.

    Despite the wickets of Alex Carey (12) and captain Pat Cummins (12), England – walking wounded with Stokes struggling and most of their attacking fading in the sun – were unable to maintain their charge.

    Head surpassed his century with a sublime on-drive from Chris Woakes and though Wood's beamer did deliver a blow to the batsman's jaw, his efforts moving Australia into a 196-run lead.

    Head stars as team-mates set the stage

    Head could well have put this game out of England's reach. His innings so far has included 12 boundaries and two sixes. Only four players have scored a faster hundred for Australia in a men's Test innings (Adam Gilchrist, Jack Gregory, Warner, Matthew Hayden).

    While they did not have centuries to show for their efforts, Warner and Labuschagne enjoyed stellar days. Warner posted his sixth 50-plus score as an opening batsman at the Gabba, equalling Bill Lawry for the second most at the ground in the format as an opener – only Mark Taylor (eight) has more. Labuschagne, meanwhile, recorded his fourth 50-plus score in five career innings at the Gabba.

    No-ball embarrassment

    Umpiring and technology were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after Stokes' early spell. Having been denied the wicket of Warner due to a no-ball, analysis of his spell showed the England star had overstepped 14 times with only two no-balls called. The reason? The technology had failed, leaving the umpires to make the calls.

    As for Stokes, he finished with disappointing figures of 0-50 from nine overs, suffering a knee injury in the field to further compound a so-far frustrating return.

  • MVP Jokic leads Nuggets to OT win with another triple-double, Giannis struggles MVP Jokic leads Nuggets to OT win with another triple-double, Giannis struggles

    Nikola Jokic showed why he is the reigning NBA MVP after leading the Denver Nuggets to a 120-114 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Jokic posted back-to-back triple-doubles as the Nuggets outlasted the Pelicans in NBA action on Wednesday.

    After putting up a triple-double on Monday, Jokic was at it again midweek with a season-high 39 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

    Jokic scored 11 of his points in OT to help the Nuggets take down the Pelicans – the Serb star posting his ninth career 30-point triple-double, the most in NBA history by a center not named Wilt Chamberlain.

    Overall, it is Jokic's 61st career triple-double, one behind Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden, who ranks seventh all-time.

     

    Red-hot Rockets win again

    The Houston Rockets capitalised on Kevin Durant's absence in a 114-104 win over the shorthanded and Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets. Durant was rested and the Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games. According to Stats Perform, the Rockets are the first NBA/NBA/NHL team to have a losing streak of 15-plus games and then a winning streak of at least seven games later that same season (at any point) since the Louisville Colonels in 1895.

    Joel Embiid was the source of inspiration again for the Philadelphia 76ers, who prevailed 110-106 against the Charlotte Hornets. Embiid had 32 points to lead the 76ers. It is the ninth time in Embiid's career he has tallied at least 75 points and 20 rebounds in a two-game span. The only other 76ers to do so at least nine times are Hall of Famers Chamberlain and Charles Barkley.

    The NBA-leading Golden State Warriors were too good for Western Conference rivals the Portland Trail Blazers 104-94.

     

    Giannis struggles as champs fall

    Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks lost 113-104 at the Miami Heat after superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with just 15 points on four-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.