Tom Hartley gives England hope of pulling off unlikely win against India

By Sports Desk January 28, 2024

Debutant Tom Hartley took out India’s top three as England continued fighting for a jaw-dropping comeback victory on day four of the first Test in Hyderabad.

Spurred on by a wonderful 196 from Ollie Pope, the tourists posted an unlikely 420 in their second innings to leave a taxing chase of 231 on the table.

Hartley, who made 34 in an enterprising stand of 80 with Pope, then came to the fore with his left-arm spin as India slid to 95 for three at tea.

Shelving memories of his chastening first spell in Test cricket on Thursday, he removed his tormentor Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill and home captain Rohit Sharma in quick succession.

Pope, fresh from his game-changing knock with the bat, was in the thick of things again as he snapped up Jaiswal and Gill with sharp catches under the helmet.

At the break KL Rahul (21 not out) and a promoted Axar Patel (17no) were making headway, leaving all results up for grabs and 136 still to get.

England had started the day on 316 for six, adding 104 before Pope was last man out attempting a scoop shot that he hoped would bring a deserved double century.

Pope was unbeaten on 148 overnight, an effort hailed by team-mate Joe Root as an “absolute masterclass”, and soon made it clear he was still in the mood with a classy cover drive for four.

His seventh-wicket partnership with Rehan Ahmed reached 64 before Jasprit Bumrah had the teenager caught behind for 28.

That looked like a window of opportunity for India but the arrival of Hartley confounded them even further, the newcomer looking entirely untroubled as he joined Pope in a stand of 80 from 106 balls.

The hosts were increasingly listless as England took the game on, Hartley producing a no-look scoop early in his innings and lacing Ravichandran Ashwin down the ground on the charge.

The arrival of the new ball did not bring the desired effect, Pope flipping it over his head for four more and Hartley pinging Ravindra Jadeja over the top.

When Ashwin did beat the bat, an increasing rarity, the ball nipped past Pope’s outside edge and skimmed away for four byes. Moments after unfurling a glorious straight drive Pope was granted a life on 186, fencing Mohammed Siraj to slip only for KL Rahul to spill a low catch.

Hartley, who joined Pope in using the reverse sweep to quell the spin, was finally undone for 34 by a shin-high grubber from Ashwin and that was the turning point India needed. Mark Wood came and went for a duck and, when the injured Jack Leach hobbled to the crease, Pope decided to force the issue.

With lunch approaching he decided to stoop low and paddle Bumrah over the wicketkeeper, a plan that ended with his off stump out of the ground.

England almost had the perfect start to their hunt for wickets but when Wood took Sharma’s edge the catch slipped through Zak Crawley’s fingers at slip. He went on to score 39 important runs but Hartley’s endeavour chipped away at India’s confidence.

Jaiswal, who had hit Hartley’s first Test delivery for six, and Gill fell in the space of three balls, Pope showing safe hands at short-leg then silly point. Hartley then had Sharma lbw, skidding one straight on after a couple of sharp turners.

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