India weren’t brave enough: Rohit Sharma reacts to England’s stunning Hyderabad Test win

Written by Sumit Seth

India captain Rohit Sharma was not able to pinpoint at one particular reason for their shock loss in the first Test of the ongoing 5-match series against England in Hyderabad on Sunday. India lost a Test match at home after taking a 100-plus first innings lead for the first time as England scripted a remarkable comeback and won the series opener by 28 runs to go 1-0 up.

India took a lead of 190 runs in the first innings and it looked like the Asian giants were heading toward a customary victory at home. However, England walked the talk with their Bazball approach and scored 420 runs in the third innings, riding on one of the greatest second innings 196 from Ollie Pope to set India a stiff target of 231 in Hyderabad where nothing more than 70 was successfully chased in the past.

India’s celebrated spin twins R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were put under pressure in the second innings by Ollie Pope, who played out-of-the-box cricket that symbolises England’s revitalised Test approach. It was the first time both Jadeja and Ashwin conceded in excess of 100 runs in the second innings of a Test at home in their careers as England charged ahead with momentum. Tom Hartley and Rehan Ahmed also chipped in with handy contributions as Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the best bowler for India with a 4-wicket haul, including that of Ollie Pope who was out bowled for 196.

With the bat, India lacked the fearlessness that England displayed as they waited for things to happen on a fourth day pitch in Hyderabad and paid the price for their lack of proactiveness.

Left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, who was carted around in the first innings, picked up 7 wickets as India were bundled 202 in the final innings despite resistance from the lower-order batters.

“Overall, we failed as a team. We didn’t bat well enough. I wanted them (Siraj and Bumrah) to take the game to the fifth day. The lower order fought really well there. You need to be brave enough, which I thought we weren’t,” Rohit Sharma said after the defeat in Hyderabad.

However, Rohit Sharma doffed his hat to Ollie Pope, calling the England vice-captain’s 196 one of the best he has seen by a touring batter in India in Test cricket.

Pope was out for 1 in the first innings, but he played a remarkable knock to single-handedly steer England out of trouble after they slipped to 163 for 5.

Pope was fearless as he reverse-swept and lapped the Indian spinners to put them off the rhythm.

“Having got a lead of 190, we thought we were very much in the batting. Exceptional batting, one of the best I have seen in Indian conditions by an overseas batter, Ollie Pope played a brilliant knock. We bowled in the right areas. The bowlers executed the plans really well, you got to take your hat off to Pope and say well played,” he added.

India will look to bounce back when the two teams meet in Visakhapatnam from February 2.

About the author

Sumit Seth