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Cricket: Ben Stokes hails Pope and “greatest triumph” under Bazball

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England Test cricket captain Ben Stokes has hailed his side’s “greatest triumph” as the tourists came from a 190-run deficit at the half-way point to beat India by 28 runs in Hyderabad.

A magnificent 196 from England vice-captain ate into the India first innings lead and, combined with steady knocks of 34 by Ben Foakes, 28 from Rehan Ahmed and 34 from debutant Tom Hartley, left the hosts needing 230 to win the first of five Tests.

They started well with opener and captain Rohit Sharma knocking 39 but Hartley got his first of seven second innings wickets when Pope caught Yashasvi Jaiswal off the Lancashire spinner’s bowling and India started to crumble thereon.

The tail offered some stiff resistance with KS Bharat and Ravichandran Ashwin each adding

28 runs to the total but England got the job done in the final over of day four.

Hartley’s figures of 9-193 across the match are the second best for a spinner on debut and the best for an Englishman on debut since Bob Berry’s 9-115 against the West Indies in 1950.

It’s also just the fourth loss for India in 47 home matches going back to 2013.

“We have had a lot of fantastic moments as a team, great victories but given where we are, and who are playing,” captain Stokes said. “I think it’s our greatest triumph since I have been captain.

“For Tom Hartley to get nine wickets on debut, and Ollie Pope to get a big hundred after, is incredible. But everyone contributed.”

England batter Ollie Pope said: “It is the toughest place to come as a batter. So to start a series like that and do it in a winning cause, it’s head and shoulders above my other four [centuries].”

Losing captain Rohit Sharma said: “Obviously, having taken a lead of 190 we thought we were really in the game.

“But there was an exceptional innings from Ollie Pope, probably one of the best I have seen in Indian conditions by an overseas batter. He was brilliant.

“I definitely thought 230 was gettable. There wasn’t loads in the pitch but we just didn’t bat well enough.”

The second Test in Visakhapatnam starts on Friday.

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