Hyderabad, Jan 28 (IANS) Captain Ben Stokes on Sunday called England’s 28-run come-from-behind victory over hosts India in the first Test of the five-match series as “our greatest victory” since he took over and praised left-arm spinner Tom Hartley and middle-order batter Ollie Pope for their special efforts.
Hartley set aside a poor performance in the first innings to pick a sensational 7-62 while Ollie Pope hammered a magnificent 196 runs that helped England, who had conceded 190 runs lead, make 420 in their second innings, setting India a target of 231. Hartley then got into action after that and the hosts were bowled out for 202 in their second innings as England won by 28 runs.
“Since I’ve taken the captaincy on, where we are and who we’re playing against, it’s 100% our greatest victory. My first time coming out here and being captain in these conditions,” said Stokes as England’s Bazball tactics proved successful in India.
Stokes said the insights he gained by watching India operate in the field helped him give a long spell to Hartley despite the left-arm spinner’s failure in the first innings and that turned things in his team’s favour. Hartley managed 2-141 in 25 overs in the first innings but went on to bamboozle the Indian batters in their second knock for a brilliant haul of 7-62.
“I’m a great observer, I’ve watched how India operate in the field. Absolutely thrilled for everyone, Tom Hartley’s nine wickets, and Ollie Pope’s first Test back after shoulder surgery. Tom came into the squad for the first time, he’s heard a lot and had a lot of confidence [instilled].
I was willing to give him a long spell regardless of what happened [in the first innings]. Whether that was the reason he got seven wickets and won us the game, who knows?” said Stokes.
The England captain described Ollie Pope’s knock as “greatest innings by an Englishman on the subcontinent”.
“Seen some special innings from Joe Root, but the whole innings on a difficult wicket, for me that’s the greatest innings by an Englishman on the subcontinent,” he said during the post-match presentation on Sunday.
About his team’s approach ahead of this match and now that they have won the first Test, Stokes said they will go on with their brand of cricket as they don’t “fear failure”.
“If you lose, you wake up in the morning, still have a good crack and life and move on. We don’t fear failure. Go out and express yourself and you’ll be all right,” said Stokes as his team handed India just their fourth Test defeat at home since 2013.