February 25, 2024

Five things we learned from the Hyderabad English Championship

England produced one of the best Test victories in their history in Hyderabad, coming from behind to stun India with a 28-run victory in the series opener.

Here, PA takes a look at some of the key highlights from four memorable days.

Never write off the Baseball Squad

England captain Ben Stokes (right) celebrates with his team.

England captain Ben Stokes (right) celebrates with his team (Mahesh Kumar/AP)

Since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum brought their ambitious philosophy to an underperforming dressing room, they have rewritten the rules of engagement in cricket's oldest form. However, many believed India's 190-run first-innings lead was simply too great to overcome. However, this English team does not allow itself to be burdened by precedent or pressure. They won't succeed every time, but for Stokes' men there is no such thing as an impossible task.

The Pope's promise has been fulfilled

Ollie Pope had been talking about being a star in the making for years, but his game-changing 196 felt like an innings that finally propelled him to the next level. Before the regime change that brought Stokes to power, he was on the verge of becoming a wasted talent but his numbers are trending in a tremendous direction. In 23 Tests before the summer of '22, he averaged 28.66 and had just one century to his name – in 16 Tests since then, he averaged 46.46 and a four hundred.

A victorious India could be derailed

India's Rohit Sharma has a proud record to protect.India's Rohit Sharma has a proud record to protect.

Indian Rohit Sharma has a proud record in protection (Mahesh Kumar/AP).

India have built up a good reputation on home soil since they were last beaten by a touring side, Sir Alastair Cook's England 2012 side. But there were chinks in their armor in Hyderabad. In the second innings of the match, their elite spin attack looked terrified of batting creativity, with a steady supply of sweeps, reverse sweeps and slopers disturbing their usual rhythm. When it came to chasing 231, they found themselves unusually passive, with many of the batters clinging on for dear life rather than building momentum. For the first time in a decade, they appear vulnerable under fire.

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The selectors have made a case for bypassing Hartley

Eyebrows were raised when Lancashire's Tom Hartley was given the nod for this tour with a mediocre first-class record and had done little to advance his cause. There were other left-arm spinners with superior statistics, obviously the Hampshire experienced Liam Dawson who had just come off an excellent county season. But England, led by cricket director Rob Key, envisioned that Hartley's defining characteristics such as height, air speed and trajectory would flourish on Indian pitches. After a difficult baptism, they were proved right in glorious fashion with seven for 62 in the second innings.

King Kohli leaves a void

Virat Kohli can still play some role in the series.Virat Kohli can still play some role in the series.

Virat Kohli could still play some role in the series (Adam Davy/PA)

There is no bigger name in world cricket than Virat Kohli, and his withdrawal from the first two Tests citing personal reasons has left the home team vulnerable. Kohli's absence from the middle order diminished India's strength, as Shubman Gill, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer were unable to cover for him. But his aura and prickly personality were also lost. It is difficult to imagine India being so quiet and passive on the field as England made 420, and they would certainly have played more aggressively in the subsequent chase. If he feels he can make a cameo in the series, this could be a big moment.