Bazball 1-0 in India! Hartley takes seven on debut as England produce stunning comeback in Hyderabad
Debutant Tom Hartley has delivered one of the greatest overseas wins in England’s cricketing annals, claiming a magnificent seven to down India in the first Test at Hyderabad and complete a classic comeback.
Earlier in the match Hartley had seen his first ball as a Test cricketer launched for six, but he showed huge reserves of steel to bounce back on Sunday with stunning figures of 7-62 in the fourth innings to seal a dramatic 28-run victory.
The unheralded 24-year-old, selected for this trip as a hunch pick, left a hero after he wrapped up the last wicket in the final over of the fourth day.
England looked on course for a thumping defeat after conceding a 190-run first-innings deficit but refused to back down with bat or ball and condemned India to just a fourth home defeat in over a decade.
Ollie Pope provided the platform with a heroic 196, leaving India with a tough chase of 231 on a worn pitch, and with lead spinner Jack Leach restricted by a knee injury Hartley stepped up, unforgettably.
India, all out for 202 in an extended final session, showed resistance, as Ravichandran Ashwin (28) and Srikar Bharat (28) added 57 for the eighth wicket, but it was not enough.
Hartley beamed afterwards: “It’s unbelievable, it’s not going to sink in for a while I think. I’m over the moon to be honest.
“It was really tough out there, it didn’t spin quite as much as we thought (in the first innings) but testament to Stokesy (captain Ben Stokes), Baz (coach Brendon McCullum) and the coaches, they really got around me and I lost no confidence really.”
“Incredibly proud,” Stokes added, after what was a record-breaking turnaround for any visiting team coming back from a deficit to beat India at home. Australia’s win after turning around a 65-run deficit back in Chennai in 1964 was the previous best.
“Before the series started, we knew how much of a beast India are at home but the way we responded to being so far behind, it was testament to everything we have said and lived and breathed over the last two years.”
The second match of the five-Test series, in Visakhapatnam, begins on Friday.
England, having already conceded a chunky lead, had risked defeat inside three days when slumping to 6-163 on Saturday.
But England vice-captain Pope went on to conjure up one of the finest knocks by a visiting batter as his team roared back.
Pope’s knock, spread over six-and-a-half hours, was a masterclass, while Rehan Ahmed (28), playing his second Test, and Hartley, who looked just as capable with the bat in his invaluable knock of 34, also frustrated India.
“To come here to India, toughest place as a batter, and put in a winning performance, it’s head and shoulders above the rest,” Pope said after collecting the player-of-the-match award.
Pope continued to hurt the hosts even as a close-in fielder as Hartley ran through the Indian batting line-up.
Yashasvi Jaiswal (15) stepped out to flick him to short leg and, two balls later, Shubman Gill perished at silly point with Pope taking both catches.
Rohit Sharma (39) had looked assured at the other end but Hartley dismissed him lbw to reduce India to 3-62.
Rahul (22) and Axar Patel (17) briefly resisted England, who took charge after a tumbling Stokes brilliantly ran out Ravindra Jadeja with a backhanded flick from mid-on.
Hartley fittingly sealed England’s win when he had Mohammed Siraj stumped.
“I definitely thought 230 was gettable. There wasn’t loads in the pitch but we just didn’t bat well enough,” a dejected Rohit said.
Stokes has hailed England’s heroes of Hyderabad after claiming his “greatest triumph” since becoming Test captain.
Stokes has overseen some outstanding victories since taking charge almost two years ago – with record run chases at home, a historic 3-0 whitewash in Pakistan and a thrilling Ashes contest last summer – but now he has a new favourite.
Facing an India side who had lost just three times on their own patch in the past decade, England somehow turned a 190-run first-innings deficit into a jaw-dropping 28-run win on Sunday.
The biggest lead any touring team had ever previously overturned in India was just 65 – by Australia in Chennai, all the way back in 1964.
Stokes’ vice-captain Pope was player of the match, saving the game with a stunning knock of 196, while debutant Hartley forced the win with fourth-innings figures of 7-62.
Reflecting on an unforgettable turnaround at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Stokes said: “Since I’ve been captain this is definitely the number one win.
“We’ve been part of some amazing games over the last few years, had some incredible victories, but considering where we are and who we are playing against, this is 100 per cent definitely our greatest triumph.
“The thing about winning is you obviously want to give the praise to the people who deserve it. This week two people in particular – Ollie Pope and Tom Hartley, amazing match-winning performances.”
Hartley’s contribution must have been particularly satisfying for Stokes, who went out of his way to support the newcomer after a tough start to his Test career.
After seeing the left-arm spinner’s first ball hit for six by Yashasvi Jaiswal at the start of a costly opening spell, Stokes could have tried to shield him from further damage.
Instead he gave him a long spell and plenty of support, and went back to him again frequently.
That faith came good when it mattered most, as Hartley ran through India to scupper their chase.
Pope’s ears have been ringing for the past 24 hours with praise, with England’s sub-continental master Joe Root declaring his century an “absolute masterclass” and India coach Rahul Dravid – one of the finest players of his generation – rating it as the best example of sweeping and reverse-sweeping he had ever witnessed.
Improbably, this was his first competitive outing for six months after undergoing surgery for a dislocated shoulder.
“There’s been some long days in the gym, but these moments make everything worth it,” he said.
“I’ve felt really good but it was about getting my head around putting a big innings together. Fortunately for me that happened and with the win it means a hell of a lot more.”
England’s route to victory was all the more difficult given the knee injury which kept first-choice spinner Jack Leach to a reduced role. He still took 1-33 as he battled soreness, bruising and swelling.
“He is an absolute legend who epitomises what I want everyone’s focus to be on, which is the team above individual success,” said Stokes.