Hyderabad: The pushback started by incandescent Ollie Pope was given its perfect conclusion by debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley whose soul-ripping spell fashioned England’s memorable 28-run win over India on the fourth day of the first Test here on Sunday.
India’s chase of 231 went horribly south once Hartley (7/62) spun into India’s top order, igniting a rot that saw India getting bowled out for 202 in the final over of the day.
England now leads the five-match series 1-0.
This is India’s fourth defeat in home Tests since 2013 and India’s approach during the chase was in complete contrast to how Pope tackled Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja with a lot of intent.
The spin twins have never been lethal on surfaces which aren’t exactly Dustbowl and England’s second-innings batting show won’t do their reputation any good.
Earlier, Pope’s brilliant 196 took England to 420 in their second innings and gave them a substantial lead and genuine hopes of stretching India.
And England did way more than stretching the hosts.
In fact, this defeat will leave a deep burn in Indian hearts as they stumbled against a 25-year-old rookie Lancastrian with a combined experience of three international matches on a pitch that did not hide any demons.
There was appreciable turn and variable bounce but nothing this set of Indian batters could not have negated.
Three dismissals showcased the travails of Indians on the day Shubman Gill (0), Yashasvi Jaiswal (15) and Shreyas Iyer (13) fell to their own ineptitudes.
Jaiswal made a half-hearted charge against Hartley and the spinner pulled back his length after spotting movement of the batter.
All the left-hander could manage was to spoon a catch to Pope at a silly point.
Gill followed suit two balls later in the same over.
He made a hard-handed, indecisive push at the ball after Hartley tossed one around the off-stump.
Pope did the rest at a silly point.
Jack Leach, who is still not 100 per cent after taking a blow on his knee while fielding, dealt another telling blow to India’s aspirations.
He produced a rather regulation ball that went across the right-hander from around the stumps, and Shreyas just poked the ball to Joe Root at first slip.
It was just a nothing dismissal that encapsulated India’s turmoil on the day.
India could have felt a greater pinch with Iyer’s dismissal as he is one of the better-equipped batters in this batting unit to negate spin.
Rahul went upstairs after the on-field umpire gave him leg before, but the TV umpire too concurred with his distant colleague’s decision.
Ravindra Jadeja challenged Ben Stokes for a quick single and the England captain found his target with a direct throw, catching the batter well short of the crease.
But the sight of him walking back with a clutched hamstring might just offer a tad concern to the Indian camp.
Skipper Rohit Sharma looked in good space but Hartley’s guile had him stationed in front of the wicket when the ball thudded onto his pads.
After losing three wickets in the post-lunch session, India slipped further in the final passage losing wickets in a cluster before Ravichandran Ashwin (28) and KS Bharat (28) stemmed the slide for a while with a 58-run alliance for the eighth wicket.
Their assiduousness was a marker for some of their top-order teammates but it remained just that.
A gloomy pointer.
But for getting into a position from where they can dictate the course of the match, England, resuming from 321 for six, should be indebted to Pope, who ballooned his overnight 148 to 196.
England’s lead was a good 126 when play ended on Saturday, but they needed more to give a fight to India.
Pope did that in the company of equally resolute Rehan Ahmed (28) and Hartley (34).
With Ahmed, Pope added 64 runs for the seventh wicket and then made 80 off 106 balls with Hartley on his side for the eighth wicket.
However, Bumrah brought India the first breakthrough of the morning session when he had Ahmed caught behind.
Ashwin’s shooter ended the burgeoning Pope-Hartley alliance as the off-spinner sneaked a low-flying ball past the latter’s bat to bowl him.
Pope was the last man to depart.
Fittingly, Bumrah, the best of Indian bowlers, ended his stay with a slower ball that dishevelled the stumps as Pope tried a reverse scoop.
However, by then, he had also reversed the course of the Test match by then. Irrevocably.