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Pope’s Heroic 196, Hartley’s Seven-for Lead England to Sensational Victory

England 246 (Stokes 70, Bairstow 37, Ashwin 3-68, Jadeja 3-88) and 420 (Pope 196, Duckett 47, Bumrah 4-41, Ashwin 3-126) beat India 436 (Jadeja 87, Rahul 86, Jaiswal 80) and 202 (Rohit 39, Hartley 7-62) by 28 runs

England won one of their best Tests in Hyderabad before a loud Barmy Army and surprised home crowd. Falling behind by 190 in the first innings—a deficit never overcome by a visiting side in India—is not one of the methods to win a Test in India.

Despite a comical last-wicket stand taking India within 29 runs of their objective, England accomplished the unthinkable with their most experienced spinner hurt and half their team gone before scores were matched.

England’s Remarkable Comeback

India’s biggest loss was 192 in Galle in 2015. Dinesh Chandimal’s sweep-filled, audacious, once-in-a-generation knock gave Sri Lanka the win. After two days of cricket, England’s Ollie Pope scored 196 runs with sweeps, reverse sweeps, and reverse Dilscoops, misjudging the Indian spinners’ lengths. Tom Hartley, the debutant left-arm spinner, took seven wickets in the second innings after being hit for two sixes in his first over in Test cricket.

Bazball Philosophy

The Bazball strategy is to reverse-scoop rather than defend, thus Pope could accomplish what he did in the first innings. If he reverse-sweeps, he plays as practiced. He felt freer knowing England had nothing to lose after falling behind by 190.

India possessed none of these freedoms. Not natural sweepers, let alone reverse-sweepers. It was rare for them to lose a home Test after a first-innings lead.

In the first innings, Stokes used offensive fields to create wickets. Now he could attack with the ball and defend with the fields. Two catchers at the wicket, two at cover and midwicket, but others protecting runs.

Wood bowled one over with the new ball, dropping Rohit Sharma at second slip, but Root and Hartley were all over the good length rashly. India started well, gaining 42 for the first wicket, but the spinners were challenging them and not committing length errors like in the previous innings.

Sweeping Tactics Against Spin

The only Indian hitter to sweep and reverse-sweep spinners off their length was Rohit. After only seven reverse sweeps throughout his Test career, he played three. Two gave him limits. Hartley was good enough to put him on the crease and forward-defend at a non-turning ball and bowl him out.

India promoted Axar Patel to add a left-hand hitter and improve his batting. It took two spurts to score 32 for the fourth wicket with KL Rahul. First when Rahul swept from outside leg, then when Ahmed missed his length.

Jadeja then ran himself out, and Shreyas Iyer played arguably the worst shot, giving slip practice to Root when he followed the turn and opened the face for Hartley. The ball had become soft by then, and India was in a position to capitalize on the easiest batting conditions. Instead, KS Bharat and Ashwin added a conservative 57 for the eighth wicket in 21.4 overs. If India had more wickets during this phase, they could have got closer.

In the dying moments of the day, Hartley produced his ball of the match, one that drifted in, pitched leg, and turned past Bharat’s bat to take the off stump. England claimed the extra half hour and, despite a chancy 25-run stand between Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, got home in the last over of the day.

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