Home » Ben Stokes: England’s 28-run first Test victory over India is ‘my greatest triumph as a captain’

Ben Stokes: England’s 28-run first Test victory over India is ‘my greatest triumph as a captain’

England’s epic 28-run victory over India in Hyderabad left spectators stunned as Ben Stokes hailed it as his “greatest triumph as captain” to go one up in the five-match series.

The tourists completed a thrilling victory after vice-captain Ollie Pope notched a sensational 196 and debutant Tom Hartley (7-62) finished with a seven-wicket haul.

Stokes’ decision to stick with Hartley after an expensive opening spell of bowling in the first innings raised some questions. But he repaid Stokes’ faith in him by skittling India’s top and middle order before holding his nerve at the death.

“Since I’ve taken captaincy on we’ve had some great victories and this is 100 per cent our greatest triumph since I’ve been captain,” Stokes said.

“To be honest, it’s my first time here being in charge of a team in India and captain in these conditions. You may not see it, but I am a great observer of the game. I watched a lot of how Rohit Sharma set the field. I think that may have been obvious with our approach.

“Tom Hartley came into the squad for the first time and he’s heard a lot of language spoken and confidence given to him. I was willing to give him a longer spell at the start regardless of what happened because I knew I would have had to turn to him at some point later in the game.

“Whether or not that meant why he got seven wickets and won us the game, who knows.”

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Ben Stokes completed a sensational bit of fielding to run out India’s Ravindra Jadeja in the second innings (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

England’s Pope struck a magical 196 runs from 278 balls to help England post 420 at the end of their second innings.

“For me, that’s the greatest innings to have ever been played by an English batter,” Stokes said.

“Before the Test started, we knew how much of a beast India are in their own conditions. But for us to respond from being so far behind in the game is a testament to everything we said and lived over the last two years.

“If you lose, you wake up in the morning and still have a good crack at life and you’re still breathing. We’ve got four games after this regardless of the result.

“I don’t fear failure. All I want to do is encourage the squad to express themselves. We’ll be alright.

“For Ollie Pope to come out and play in the way he did was just phenomenal. I’ve been lucky enough to play with Joe Root out in the subcontinent and we’ve seen a lot of unbelievable knocks from him, but I think this is the best in subcontinent conditions that we’ll see for a long, long time.”

England walked away with the most improbable of victories on day four of the first Test
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England walked away with the most improbable of victories on day four of the first Test

India had never lost a Test at home in which they had led by 100 runs or more in the first innings. Their advantage here was 190 after they countered England’s 246 with 436.

“I think before we actually got going in this Test match, the one thing I asked the team and individuals to really focus on, especially after we’ve had such a long time of success, is can we stay committed to the process without being emotionally attached to the outcome?

“This Test match has summed that up perfectly. The way we’re still able to go out there and put our front foot forward, still drive how we want to play as a team and not get caught up in the whole emotion of what is going in with the whole game situation.

“Taking the scoreboard out of it is such an easy thing for me to do as an individual and it’s something everyone is getting better at the more we’re playing.”

Tom Hartley overcame a true test of his character to put on a  sublime display on day four
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Tom Hartley overcame a true test of his character to put on a sublime display on day four

When England were 163-5 in their second innings on Saturday, and still 27 runs behind India, there appeared only one winner – but up stepped Ollie Pope, with an innings team-mate Joe Root described as a “masterclass” and one Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton called his best England knock.

“To do it in a winning cause has really topped off today and wouldn’t have meant anywhere near as much. It’s probably one of the hardest places to come as a batter so to come out and perform in the first Test in a match-winning cause is special,” Pope said.

“It’s been about seven months now since my injury and it’s been some long days in the gym, but these sort of moments make everything worth it.”

Follow over-by-over text commentary from the second Test between India and England, in Vizag, live on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App from 3.30am on Friday (first ball at 4am).

India vs England fixtures

  • First Test, Hyderabad: England beat India by 28 runs
  • Second Test, Visakhapatnam: Friday February 2 – Tuesday February 6
  • Third Test, Rajkot: Thursday February 15 – Monday February 19
  • Fourth Test, Ranchi: Friday February 23 – Tuesday February 27
  • Fifth Test, Dharamshala: Thursday March 7 – Monday March 11

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