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Hyderabad Test victory the best under my captaincy, declares Ben Stokes

Last updated on 28 Jan 2024 | 01:09 PM
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Hyderabad Test victory the best under my captaincy, declares Ben Stokes

England wiped off a 190-run deficit in the third innings to complete a closely-fought 28-run win in the first Test against India

England had a mountain to climb after they went into the third innings with a deficit of 190 to wipe off. Things looked bleak when they lost their skipper Ben Stokes at 163 for 5, but Ollie Pope (196) rallied the lower-order around him to script one of the best comebacks in Tests.

In fact, Stokes believes that the win in Hyderabad is the best since he took over as the England captain.

"Since I have taken captaincy on, we have had a lot of fantastic moments. This victory is probably 100% our greatest triumph. It's my first time coming here and being a captain," an elated Stokes said at the post-match presentation.

Debutant Tom Hartley was taken to the cleaners in the first innings, picking up just two wickets and conceding at over five an over across his 25 overs. After scoring a valuable 34 down the order, Hartley returned to bowl in the second innings with much more control and that paid off as the orthodox spinner walked off with seven wickets to his name.

"Hartley to get nine wickets and Pope after his shoulder surgery. Tom came into the squad for the first time. A lot of confidence given. I was willing to give him longer spells. We completely back people who we have selected," Stokes said.

Stokes further lauded Pope for his incredible effort that helped England set India a stiff 231-run target.

"The situation we found ourselves in, the shots he played, 190 on such a wicket, he was able to manipulate the field, that's the greatest innings ever played in subcontinent by an English batter. I don't fear failure, I try to encourage whoever is in the squad," the England skipper said.

India skipper Rohit Sharma, too, was all praise for the way Pope batted. "Exceptional batting, one of the best I have seen in Indian conditions by an overseas batter, Ollie Pope played a brilliant knock. We bowled in the right areas. The bowlers executed the plans really well, you got to take your hat off to Pope and say well played," a dejected Rohit said.

Player of the match, Pope said that he had tweaked his technique a tad as a preparation for the tour following a shoulder injury he suffered during the Ashes last year, and it came off.

"Coming here to India, toughest place for a batter, to start the series like this, heads and shoulders above the other four [hundreds]. I got lucky there in the second innings. I played and missed a few. I was focused on covering the inside edge," Pope said. 

"I maintained that mindset and wanted to be positive with my sweep and reverse sweep. I have changed my technique slightly for this series. I have had a long time to prepare for this series. Made some adjustments, worked hard on my game."

With this win, England have taken a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. India will hope to put in a better show in the next Test in Visakhapatnam, which gets underway on Friday (February 2).

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