England stun India in first Test as debutant Hartley spins a web


England pulled off a sensational 28-run victory over India in the first Test at Hyderabad, thanks to a brilliant performance by debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley. Hartley took seven wickets in the second innings, including four of India’s top five, to bowl out the hosts for 202 in their chase of 231. This was England’s first Test win in India since 2012, and only the fourth time India have lost a home Test in the last decade.

Pope sets up the challenge

The match seemed to be heading India’s way after they took a 190-run lead in the first innings, thanks to centuries by Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant. England, however, fought back with a superb batting display in the second innings, led by Ollie Pope. The 24-year-old batsman scored a magnificent 196, his second Test double hundred, and shared vital partnerships with Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes. Pope showed great skill and temperament to counter India’s spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who were expected to exploit the wearing pitch. Pope’s innings helped England post 420 in their second innings, setting India a challenging target of 231 on the fourth day.

Hartley turns the tide

India’s chase got off to a shaky start as they lost Rohit Sharma in the third over, caught behind off James Anderson. Hartley then struck in his first over, trapping Cheteshwar Pujara lbw with a delivery that skidded on. Hartley continued to torment India’s batsmen with his accuracy and variations, and soon had Kohli caught at slip and Shubman Gill stumped. India were reduced to 44 for four, and Hartley had taken all four wickets. India’s hopes rested on Pant, who had scored a blistering 152 in the first innings, but he too fell to Hartley, caught at midwicket trying to hit out. Hartley had taken five wickets in his first nine overs, and India were in deep trouble at 73 for five.

England stun India

India’s lower order fights back

India’s lower order showed some resistance, with Srikar Bharat, Ashwin and Shardul Thakur making useful contributions. Bharat, who was also making his debut, scored 42 and added 53 runs with Ashwin for the sixth wicket. Ashwin made 37 and shared 44 runs with Thakur for the eighth wicket. Thakur played a cameo of 32 off 25 balls, hitting four fours and a six, and brought India within 50 runs of the target. However, England’s bowlers kept chipping away, and Hartley returned to wrap up the innings. He dismissed Thakur and Ishant Sharma in the same over, and then had Mohammed Siraj caught at short leg in the final over of the day. India were all out for 202, and Hartley had taken seven for 62, the best figures by an England spinner on debut.

England celebrate a memorable win

England’s players and support staff erupted in joy as Hartley took the final wicket, and hugged him in appreciation. Hartley, who had been picked as a surprise selection for the tour, had proved his worth with a match-winning performance. He was named the player of the match, and received praise from both captains. Kohli said Hartley was the difference between the two sides, and credited him for bowling with discipline and skill. England captain Joe Root said Hartley was outstanding, and showed great character and courage. Root also praised Pope for his brilliant double hundred, and said the win was a collective effort by the team. Root said the win was one of the best he had been part of, and hoped to carry the momentum into the rest of the series. The second Test will start in Chennai on February 2.


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