Hartley, Pope Overwhelm India

India bossed a majority of the match before they were decimated by England in batting and bowling departments later on, to slump to just their fourth Test defeat at home since 2013…reports Asian Lite News

Debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley set aside a poor performance in the first innings to pick a sensational 7-62 as England clinched an improbable and famous 28-run win over India in the Test series opener at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday.

Ollie Pope’s magnificent 196 helped England, who had conceded 190 runs lead, make 420 in their second innings, setting India a target of 231. But Hartley had other plans, running through the Indian batting order to take his maiden seven-wicket haul in Test cricket to bowl out the hosts for 202, hours after West Indies pacer Shamar Joseph himself took a seven-fer to stop Australia from winning at Brisbane.

The win gives England a 1-0 lead in the five-game series. This win is also a testament to the visitors’ Bazball approach proving successful in Indian conditions. It is unarguably one of England’s greatest Test wins in the overseas circuit.

India bossed a majority of the match before they were decimated by England in batting and bowling departments later on, to slump to just their fourth Test defeat at home since 2013. It is also the first time they lost a Test at home after leading by 100-plus runs at the end of the first innings.

England were in trouble at 163/5 and Pope, the vice-captain, stepped in to play one of the greatest innings by any batter from his country in Test matches in India. He used the sweep to a very good effect, dismantling the Indian spinners in an attacking fashion to his 21 boundaries in his 278-ball vigil at the crease.

He also stitched three crucial partnerships of 112, 64 and 80 with Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley respectively. In the second over of the first session, Pope took a single past point off Jasprit Bumrah to bring up his 150, as he and Rehan Ahmed continued to swell the lead.

Despite the new ball being made available, India chose to stick with the old ball and that paid off as Bumrah used a reverse swing to take Rehan’s outside edge behind to K.S Bharat.

Pope and Tom Hartley continued to take singles and boundaries off the spinners as India struggled to make a breakthrough. Even after taking the new ball in the 89th over, boundaries were still flowing as Hartley lofted off Ashwin for a boundary.

India’s bowlers didn’t look threatening and were unable to stop the run-flow, as well as give easy singles as the Pope-Hartley stand raised their fifty. Pope was given a reprieve at 186 when KL Rahul dropped his catch at slip off Mohammed Siraj, with Hartley continuing to find boundaries.

The partnership was brought to a halt by Ashwin, who castled Hartley with the one which stayed low. Jadeja came back to have the inside edge of Mark Wood caught behind by Bharat and in the next over, Pope shaped for a reverse scoop, but he missed a slower ball from Jasprit Bumrah to hit the top of off-stump.

India’s chase began sedately before Rohit smashed two boundaries off Mark Wood – with the second one coming after it dropped short of Zak Crawley at second slip. While Rohit put away full tosses from Joe Root to the boundary ropes, Yashasvi Jaiswal got going with boundaries off sweep and cut shots.

England set attacking in-out fields to keep the openers in check but burnt a review in the sixth over. Hartley shortened his length on Jaiswal charging down the pitch and Jaiswal flicked straight into the hands of Pope at short leg.

One brought two as a tentative Shubman Gill pushed at a Hartley delivery and Pope at silly mid-off took a sharp catch to dismiss the batter for a two-ball duck. Hartley and Jack Leach, bowling with an injured knee, found sharp turn and beat the outer edges of the bats. Rohit tried to unsettle them with a flurry of boundaries coming via sweep and reverse-sweeps.

But Hartley got one to beat Rohit on the inside edge and trapped him plumb lbw, as India lost their captain and a review. From there on, Rahul and Axar joined forces to stabilise the Indian chase.

Rahul remained low and swept well to take boundaries off Hartley. On the other hand, Axar pounced on Rehan Ahmed’s fuller deliveries for two fours before pulling the short ball to make it three boundaries off the leg-spinner.

Hartley struck immediately after tea as he took a low return catch on Axar Patel’s half-hearted drive, ending a 32-run stand. Three overs later, Rahul, who was holding the fort, was trapped lbw by an off-break delivery from Joe Root while trying to defend off the backfoot, as India lost their second review.

Stokes produced a moment of brilliance when he fired in a throw after diving in from mid-on. His under-arm throw hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end and caught Ravindra Jadeja short of his crease. Two overs later, Shreyas Iyer tried to push hard against a Jack Leach delivery flighted outside off-stump and gave a simple catch to slip.

Ashwin hit a much-needed boundary for India by cutting past point off Leach, as runs required for India went down to 100 runs. Ashwin and KS Bharat were resolute in rebuilding the chase for India and were helped by the ball going soft and the slowness of the pitch kicking in.

India went past 150 when Bharat took two fours off Rehan -– a cut past point was followed by one flying off the toe-end of the bat over slip. He followed it up by slog-sweeping the leg-spinner over mid-on for four, while Ashwin brought the half-century of the partnership by slicing Leach through deep backward point for four more.

Hartley broke the 57-run eighth-wicket partnership when he got the ball to turn past Bharat’s outside edge on forward defence and hit the top of the off-stump to earn his first five-wicket haul in Tests. In his next over, Hartley had Ashwin stumped by a mile. Bumrah and Siraj added 25 runs for the last wicket before Hartley stumped the latter at the stroke of stumps to earn an extraordinary win for England.

Brief scores:

England 246 and 420 in 102.1 overs (Ollie Pope 196; Ben Duckett 47; Jasprit Bumrah 4-41, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-126) beat India 436 and 202 in 69.2 overs (Rohit Sharma 39, K.S Bharat 28; Tom Hartley 7-62) by 28 runs

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