Published on: Jan 29, 2024
England captain Ben Stokes rated his team’s 28-run win over India in the first Test in Hyderabad on Sunday, January 28 as the greatest triumph under his captaincy tenure till now.
England were on the back foot after the first two days of the Test match. Batting first after winning the toss, they were bowled out for under 250. Then, India put up a strong response to post 436. In the second innings, though, Ollie Pope led the team’s resurgence with a magnificent 196. Debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley then claimed seven wickets as England bowled out India for 202 after setting them a target of 231.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Stokes rated the Hyderabad triumph on top of the list among his wins as captain. The all-rounder said, “Since I’ve taken the captaincy on, we’ve had a lot of fantastic moments as a team. We’ve had a lot of great victories. We’ve been involved in some amazing games. But I think where we are and who we’re playing against, this victory is definitely our greatest triumph since I’ve been captain.”
While Hartley claimed seven wickets in the second innings, he struggled in the first, registering figures of 2/131 from 25 overs. Stokes, however, showed faith in him and the youngster did not disappoint. Speaking about Hartley’s performance, the England captain said, “I was willing to give him the longer spell regardless of what had happened (in the first innings) because I knew I was going to have to turn back to him at some point throughout this Test match.
“Whether or not that was the reason to say he got seven wickets and won us the game this innings, who knows? But that was the thought process behind it and giving the people we select complete backing and not going back on the words that we speak,” he added
The England captain described himself as a great observer of the game and stated that he learned a lot from their first innings in the field. “I watched a lot of how the Indian spinners operate in the field and the fields that Rohit (Sharma) set. So, I tried to take a lot of that into our innings here when we obviously had to bowl them out. I’m thrilled for everyone involved,” Stokes elaborated.
While Hartley was superb with the ball in the second innings, the victory would have been impossible without Pope’s resurrection act. After conceding a lead of 190, England had lost half their side for 163. But the senior batter rose to the occasion and played one of the finest knocks in Indian conditions.
“I think the situation we found ourselves in, coming in at No. 3, some of the shots that we’ve seen, just that whole innings, 190 on such a difficult wicket. He was able to manipulate the field with his sweep shots and the way he was able to rotate the strike… I think that’s the greatest innings that’s ever been played in the subcontinent by an English batsman,” Stokes said in praise of Pope.
–By A Cricket Correspondent