Hyderabad, Jan 29: Former England captain Nasser Hussain has heaped praise on the Ben Stokes-led side after beating India by 28 runs in the Test series opener at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, saying that the visitors’ have shown they are a side to be messed with.
Vice-captain Ollie Pope’s magnificent 196 helped England, who had conceded 190 runs lead to India, make 420 in their second innings. Setting India a target of 231, debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley ran through the Indian batting order to take a sensational 7-62 and bowl out the hosts’ for 202, securing an improbable and famous come-from-behind win.
The win gives England 1-0 lead in the five-match series, which also adds to the side’s belief in their ultra-attacking Bazball theory being able to work well in Indian conditions. “Under captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, the team continue to thrill. It shows they have great self-belief. They have great belief in the way they are playing the game and do things their own way.”
“They don't worry about outside noise, that other people would have selected other cricketers, that people thought they should have had warm-up matches. What I like about them is their stubbornness. If you doubt them, they'll double down on it and go even more stubborn.”
“I think that is a good thing because if you're constantly listening to all the noise, all that's written and said, you flicker from one theory to another. The present regime know what they want. They're going to stick with that and even when they're behind, they will back the cricketers to turn it around. They have shown they are a side not to be messed with,” wrote Hussain in his column for Sky Sports.
For India, who were left defeated after being in the lead for nearly two and a half days, Hussain said he is expecting them to bounce back after being served a wake-up call in Hyderabad.
“India will probably rue their first innings. They got 436 but actually they could have got a lot more if not for some sloppy dismissals. They will come back. They are a very fine side and history tells you it will be tough for England here. But it is a wake-up call for India as England have shown Bazball can work in these conditions. I wouldn't recommend going 190 runs behind every time, though!”
England were at 163/5 in their second innings, but Pope stepped in to play one of the greatest innings by an England batter in Tests in India. He used the sweep to a very good effect, dismantling the Indian spinners in an attacking fashion to fetch 21 boundaries in his 278-ball vigil at the crease.
“As for Pope, he was a player who has not done brilliantly in India before and had not got runs in the first innings. When England were five down, they were up against it and he had the lower order and a tail to bat with and, boy, did he do that well.”
“It was an incredible, incredible innings - his defensive technique, his shot selection. He gave his team something to bowl at. I think he has thrived from moving up to No 3, thrived under McCullum and Stokes - another player to thrive when they've said to him 'take the fear of failure out of your game'.”
“I always felt with Pope that there was a bit of fear of failure in there so second time around, having only got one in the first innings, there would have been a fearful cricketer. But with Stokes and McCullum they've just said, 'go out and do it again',” concluded Hussain. (IANS)