Debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley set aside a poor performance in the first innings to pick a sensational 7-62 as England clinched an improbable and famous 28-run win over India in the Test series opener at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here on Sunday.
Ollie Pope’s magnificent 196 helped England, who had conceded 190 runs lead, make 420 in their second innings, setting India a target of 231. But Hartley had other plans, running through the Indian batting order to take his maiden seven-wicket haul in Test cricket to bowl out the hosts for 202, hours after West Indies pacer Shamar Joseph himself took a seven-fer to stop Australia from winning at Brisbane.
The win gives England a 1-0 lead in the five-game series. This win is a testament to the visitors’ Bazball approach proving successful in Indian conditions. It is unarguably one of England’s greatest Test wins in the overseas circuit.
Hartley struck immediately after tea as he took a low return catch on Axar Patel’s half-hearted drive. Three overs later, Rahul, who was holding the fort, was trapped lbw by an off-break delivery from Joe Root while trying to defend off the backfoot, as India lost their second review, with the scoreboard reading 107/5.
Stokes produced a moment of brilliance when he fired in a throw after diving in from mid-on. His under-arm throw hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end and caught Ravindra Jadeja short of his crease.
Two overs later, Shreyas Iyer tried to push hard against a Jack Leach delivery flighted outside off-stump and gave a simple catch to slip.
Ashwin hit a much-needed boundary for India by cutting past point off Leach, as runs required for India went down to 100 runs. Ashwin and KS Bharat were resolute in rebuilding the chase for India and were helped by the ball going soft and the slowness of the pitch kicking in.
India went past 150 when Bharat took two fours off Rehan -– a cut past point was followed by one flying off the toe-end of the bat over the lone slip. He followed it up by slog-sweeping the leg-spinner over mid-on for four, while Ashwin brought the half-century of the partnership by slicing Leach through deep backward point for four more.
Hartley broke the 57-run eighth-wicket partnership when he got the ball to turn past Bharat’s outside edge on forward defence and hit the top of the off-stump to earn his first five-wicket haul in Tests.
In his next over, Hartley had Ashwin stumped by a mile. Bumrah and Siraj added 25 runs for the last wicket before Hartley stumped the latter at the stroke of stumps to earn an extraordinary win for England.
England 246 and 420 in 102.1 overs (Ollie Pope 196; Ben Duckett 47; Jasprit Bumrah 4-41, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-126) beat India 436 and 202 in 69.2 overs (Rohit Sharma 39, K.S Bharat 28; Tom Hartley 7-62) by 28 runs