India v England: Ollie Pope and Tom Hartley inspire all-time great victory

England celebrate a wicket
Ben Stokes ran out the stubborn Ravindra Jadeja with a superb piece of fielding
First Test, Hyderabad (day four of five):
England 246 (Stokes 70; Ashwin 3-68, Jadeja 3-88) & 420 (Pope 196; Bumrah 4-41)
India 436 (Jadeja 87, Rahul 86, Jaiswal 80; Root 4-79) & 202 (Hartley 7-62)
England won by 28 runs

England produced one of their best ever away wins, stunning India with a 28-run victory in a heart-stopping finish to the first Test in Hyderabad.

Inspired by one of the all-time great innings by Ollie Pope and a beguiling 7-62 from debutant spinner Tom Hartley, England set India 231 to win, then hustled the hosts out for 202 in the extra half-hour at the end of the fourth day.

Beating a team that had lost only three of their previous 46 home Tests is remarkable in itself, but England did it with a vastly inexperienced attack and with senior spinner Jack Leach hampered by a knee injury.

England recovered from a first-innings deficit of 190 – only twice before in Test history have they overturned such a margin to win. India have never previously lost a home Test when taking a lead in excess of 100.

After England began on 316-6, Pope pushed on to 196, the highest second-innings score ever made by an England batter in India. The tourists were bowled out for 420 on the stroke of lunch.

The target should have been within India’s reach, even on the wearing pitch, but the hosts buckled. England were led by the brilliant Hartley, who also made 34 with the bat.

A collapse of 4-24 ripped the guts out of the India middle order and reduced the home supporters to an eerie silence.

With India on the brink, KS Bharat and Ravichandran Ashwin combined for a rearguard partnership of 78 that made the crowd believe again. India had the momentum, only for Hartley to bowl Bharat with a beauty.

The extra time was allowed, the shadows closed in. Ashwin danced past Hartley to be stumped, but still India were not beaten.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj swiped 25 for the final wicket before Siraj was stumped off Hartley to spark wild England celebrations.

The second Test begins in Visakhapatnam on Friday, 2 February.

England produce win for the ages

England have been pushing the boundaries of possibility ever since captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took charge in the summer of 2022.

Last winter’s defeat of Pakistan in Rawalpindi was one that went into the conversation of England’s greatest away wins, but is surely trumped by this given the quality of the opposition, conditions, make-up of England’s team and the position they found themselves in after the first innings.

All of this after a build-up that included Harry Brook pulling out of the squad for personal reasons and uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir having to return to the UK to resolve a visa delay.

Tom Hartley celebrates final wicket
India have won 70 of their 106 home Tests when taking a first-innings lead of 100 runs or more

After two days, England looked set for a heavy defeat, but fought back with the tenacity, confidence and positivity that have become their trademarks. In the end, India were overwhelmed.

The home side were certainly lacking the energy of Virat Kohli, missing from the first two Tests for personal reasons. Kohli would have urged them on in the field and relished the run-chase.

As it is, England’s win ignites the five-Test series, as they look to become the first team to win here for 12 years.

It capped a wonderful day of Test cricket, following West Indies’ shocking victory over Australia in Brisbane.

Left-field Hartley leads England

Hartley was a left-field pick for this tour, a bowler with only 20 first-class matches but with attributes England believed could make him an asset in India.

On the first evening, when Hartley’s first ball in Test cricket was belted for six as he leaked seven runs an over, it seemed a huge mis-step. On Sunday, as Hartley bowled with unerring control and delightful dip, it looked like a masterstroke.

India, perhaps mindful of the ball keeping low from Hartley’s end, were measured in adding 42 for the first wicket. Hartley changed the tone in the space of three balls, having both Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill held by the sharp hands of Pope under the helmet.

Rohit Sharma, dropped on five by Zak Crawley at second slip, was trapped on the front foot by Hartley and Axar Patel, promoted to number five, patted a tame return catch as India retreated to their bunker. When KL Rahul was lbw playing back to one Joe Root go to turn, England became favourites.

Painstakingly, Bharat and Ashwin soaked up the pressure, rode their luck and inched the score onwards. They attacked Rehan Ahmed and had India finishing the day strongly, until Hartley’s stunning delivery turned past Bharat’s defence.

Ashwin panicked, but the riotous last-wicket stand brought deafening noise from the crowd and the game was on the brink of a fifth day.

Siraj could not resist one last swing, and Hartley was left with the first seven-wicket haul on debut by an England spinner since Jim Laker in 1948.

Pope classic lays foundation for monumental win

By rescuing England with 148 on Saturday, Pope had already played a great innings, certainly his best for England. In kicking on throughout Sunday morning, it was elevated to one of the best by an England batter overseas.

Ahmed, 16 not out overnight, started the day by driving Bumrah and hitting Jadeja down the ground. India delayed the new ball, which looked to be a mistake until Ahmed edged Bumrah, falling for 28 to end a seventh-wicket stand of 64.

Pope found some more support from the assured Hartley. India took the new ball, but Pope reverse-scooped Jadeja for four. Hartley was comfortable, India were lifeless and, when Rahul dropped a straightforward chance at wide first slip to relieve Pope on 186, all of the momentum was with England.

However, when Ashwin got one to scuttle through Hartley, it was the beginning of England losing their last three wickets for one run, Pope last out trying to reverse-scoop Bumrah for the boundary that would have taken him to 200.

England’s second-innings total was the highest by a visiting team in India for 13 years, the 102.1 overs they faced their longest second innings in the Stokes-McCullum era.

For Pope, his was the fourth-highest second-innings score by any visiting batter in India, behind Andy Flower, McCullum and Sir Garfield Sobers. The elite nature of the company befits the size of his achievement and the result it shaped for England.

‘Our greatest triumph since I have been captain’ – reaction

England captain Ben Stokes, speaking on TNT Sports: “We have had a lot of fantastic moments as a team, great victories but given where we are, and who are playing, I think it’s our greatest triumph since I have been captain.

“For Tom Hartley to get nine wickets on debut, and Ollie Pope to get a big hundred after, is incredible. But everyone contributed.”

England batter Ollie Pope: “It is the toughest place to come as a batter. So to start a series like that and do it in a winning cause, it’s head and shoulders above my other four [centuries].”

India captain Rohit Sharma: “Obviously, having taken a lead of 190 we thought we were really in the game.

“But there was an exceptional innings from Ollie Pope, probably one of the best I have seen in Indian conditions by an overseas batter. He was brilliant.

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