London: England’s Ollie Pope (81) and Chris Woakes (50) batted superbly despite early setbacks to earn the hosts a tidy first-innings lead on Day 2 of the fourth Test against India on Friday at the Oval.
Woakes was the pick of the English bowlers when they bowled out India for 191 in their first innings before allrounder made an equally important contribution with the bat smashing a 60-ball 50 to put England ahead in the see-saw contest as they posted 290.
India in reply are 43/0 at stumps, still 56 runs behind, after openers KL Rahul (22 not out) and Rohit Sharma (20 not out) saw off the final few overs of the day.
The day began with the possibility of India sneaking a lead with Umesh Yadav quickly added two more wickets to his name in the first hour, removing both the overnight batsmen, Craig Overton and Dawid Malan, leaving the hosts strangling at 62/5.
Wicketkeeper Pope and Jonny Bairstow (37) then joined hands stitching a crucial 89-run partnership to turn the tide in their favour with both of them looking positive right from the start. Even after Bairstow’s removal, the innings didn’t lose its rhythm as Moeen Ali too (35) added vital contributions down the order.
Pope, who looked good all the day did notch up a deserved half-century and was set for a big knock, however, Shardul Thakur shook up his timber to break his resilience although England already steadied the ship closing the gap.
Indian bowlers were expected to wrap up the tail quickly but Woakes started the onslaught to frustrate the visitors adding crucial runs lower down the order helping England get a cushion in the first innings with counter-attacking fifty.
In reply India though managed to see off the session but Anderson did create an opportunity for a breakthrough when Rohit edged one to Rory Burns at second slip but he misjudged it giving India a huge sigh of relief.
Brief scores: India 191 & 43/0 (KL Rahul 22 not out, Rohit Sharma 20 not out) vs England 290 (Olie Pope 81, Chris Woakes 50; Umesh 3/76, Jasprit Bumrah 2/67). Match to continue.