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About three and a half years ago, Ollie Pope had just finished recording his second-highest Test score at the time, a stylish 91, when he received an enormous compliment from an unexpected person. Sachin Tendulkar tweeted that Pope appeared to have “modeled his batting on Ian Bell” after seeing the knock on television.

The legendary England right-hander Bell finished with over 7,000 runs from 118 Tests at 42.69, including a career-high 235 and 22 centuries. The Indian maestro had added, “His stance and footwork looks exactly the same to me.” The young player must have been overjoyed to be compared to such an accomplished batter by a legend when he was playing just his tenth Test.

On Saturday, in the midst of England’s opening Test match against India in Hyderabad, Tendulkar was shown a different side of Pope. The 26-year-old is known for being a finicky starter and has faced challenges from R Ashwin in the past, but he displayed complete mastery at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium without displaying any signs of uncertainty or indecision.

This kind of masterclass is difficult to duplicate. Conventional methods such as flashy cover-drives, crunchy back-cuts, wristy whips, and meaty pulls were not the foundation of this move. It wasn’t built with placement and timing in mind. Rather, it employed the reverse sweep as its cornerstone, a tool that rendered India’s formidable three-pronged spin attack ineffective.

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