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England’s Tom Hartley embraces ‘the Stokes way’ on day of the underdog | Simon Burnton
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England’s Tom Hartley embraces ‘the Stokes way’ on day of the underdog | Simon Burnton


There is nothing quite as impressive as a comeback against all odds in sports. It certainly helps, and is necessary, that these comebacks are rare. The combination of hard work, inspiration, and a bit of luck makes them even more satisfying. In Hyderabad, as the shadows grew longer and the chances of an England victory decreased, Test cricket was filled with such comebacks.

England’s performance was one of the most impressive turnarounds in the history of the game. It could even be considered the second best of the day, as both of cricket’s top teams struggled at the same time. While West Indies dominated Australia in Brisbane, England began to make their way through India, leaving spectators in awe and causing a frenzy on social media. The match in Hyderabad was filled with suspense as England, after being outplayed in the first innings and trailing by 190 runs, managed to gain control with shaky hands and nervous excitement.

Tom Hartley, a new spin bowler in his first Test, led the team to victory with an impressive seven-wicket performance. This feat is extremely rare, as he is only the second bowler this century to take more than six wickets in their debut match. Additionally, he is the first to do so in a winning effort. However, Shamar Joseph, a younger fast bowler from Guyana playing in his second Test, also stood out with seven wickets in the defeat of the Australian team at the Gabba.

On this particular day, there was a remarkable display of one-upmanship in long-distance competition. Surprisingly, there are a few individuals who can relate to how Hartley must have felt. It had been nearly three decades since a bowler had taken more than six wickets in the final innings to win a debut Test match. However, this rare feat was accomplished twice on the same day in 1996. Mohammad Zahid of Pakistan took seven wickets against New Zealand, while Lance Klusener of South Africa took eight wickets to defeat India.

This marks the 106th instance in which India has taken a lead of 100 or more runs in the opening innings of a home Test match, making it the first time they have lost after doing so. This demonstrates the impressive skills of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes in leading their team to achieve the unexpected. However, Tom Hartley’s return was even more noteworthy than his team’s performance.

India hit two sixes on Thursday, one on his first ball and another on his fifth. Despite a rough start as a Test bowler, with 63 runs conceded in the first nine overs without a wicket, he made a stunning comeback three days later. In just 26.2 overs, he gave up 62 runs but also took seven wickets, including four of India’s top five players. By the end of the match, he had gone from a liability to a legend in just four hours.

Tom Hartley (right) and Ollie Pope running between the wickets.View image in fullscreen

Hartley displays minimal emotions during games, which proved beneficial considering his performance. Despite playing a crucial role in the team’s historic win, he appeared somber during a television interview, prompting Murali Kartik to ask him to smile.

Reworded: This was likely an intense and exhausting event for Hartley as he participated in nearly all of the day’s extended play. He began by partnering with Ollie Pope and together they scored 80 runs for the eighth wicket. Hartley contributed 34 crucial and unpretentious runs while also observing the pitch for helpful insights. He was ultimately bowled out by a delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin that stayed low. In a few hours, Ashwin himself was stumped after one of his own deliveries did the same, adding to the many comebacks seen throughout the day.

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In another match, Ollie Pope returned after a six-month break due to a dislocated shoulder and delivered an outstanding innings that lasted six hours over two days. He humbly stated that he may have been fortunate. Instead of resting after such a long effort, he quickly put his helmet back on and made two impressive catches in just three balls, helping England get off to a strong start.

Ben Stokes, less than two months after knee surgery, came up with an astonishing if not entirely atypical piece of athleticism and invention in the field to run out Ravindra Jadeja. Jack Leach, in his first match after nearly eight months recuperating from a stress fracture of the back and having ended day two with his left leg heavily strapped to combat a “pretty serious” knee injury, not only took the field but bowled 10 overs and took the wicket of Shreyas Iyer, India’s last specialist batter.

Inquired about his experience with the England team, Hartley stated that there is always excitement, which is in line with the approach of Stokes. Although he may not be very familiar with the team or the format, he seems to have a good understanding of it.

Source: theguardian.com