First Session Summary
The first session of Day 2 didn’t start out in England’s way but it ended as England’s session. They lost nightwatchman Overton in Umesh’s first over of the day and the pacer shortly removed the well-set Malan too, leaving England gasping at 62-5 with still another 129 runs needed for parity. At that point, India would surely have fancied snaring another two or three wickets before lunch. However, what followed was a mix of cracking counterattacking batting and some loose bowling from the visitors. Pope and Bairstow joined hands for a fluent partnership, the former breaking the shackles with four boundaries in a Shardul over and the momentum swung totally since then. Bairstow too found his rhythm and runs came quickly thereafter.
Second Session: Siraj gets Bairstow
Just four overs after the lunch break, India struck another wicket. Siraj got out the man who looked in good touch – Jonny Bairstow. Just when it seemed like nothing was threatening the batters, Siraj produced a cracking nip-backer and Bairstow has always been susceptible to the incoming delivery. Bairstow played around the wrong line and got stuck on the front pad. Looked gone in latest and the ump too raised his finger instantly. Only the bounce in The Oval surface could have saved Bairstow once he opted for the review but it was full enough to send him packing. Three Reds on HawkEye.There was visible relief among the Indians as the partnership was finally broken.
Ollie Pope brings up his fifty
On the first ball of the 51st over, Pope shuffled inside the line to tickle a ball that was on his pads down the leg-side. With this four, Pope brought up his fifty, a crucial knock under pressure. Throughout his innings, he looked in control and simply flawless. Pope had the support of the crowd as he was the local boy and he has scored big at The Oval before too.
At the drinks break, England had the session in hand despite the loss of Bairstow against the run of play. Pope continued to look fluent and was threatening to make a big score. Moeen didn’t look that troubled and we all know how dangerous he can be once he starts to tee off. The deficit was just six runs now and once England got into the lead, pressure grew manifold on the Indians.
England proved in this session that, unlike India, England players possess the wisdom to not fall like a pack of cards in tough conditions. Great batting performance.