Cricket: Ben Stokes praises 'best victory' under his captaincy, as England stun India in first test

Ollie Pope has combined with Tom Hartley to pull off a heist at Hyderabad, where England have humbled India in the opening test, displaying their entertaining brand of cricket that has injected new life into the format.

England's thrilling 28-run victory, which came in an extended final session on the penultimate day at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, will go down as one of their finest away wins ever.

Under captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon 'Baz' McCullum, England have championed a fearless brand of cricket that puts entertainment over outcome over the past couple of years.

Tom Hartley claimed seven wickets in the final innings.
Tom Hartley claimed seven wickets in the final innings. Photo credit: Getty Images

Their 'Bazball' approach faced its toughest test against India, who have not lost a test series at home since 2012. 

India had lost only three of their previous 46 home tests and, for the first two days of the match, England looked ill-equipped to change that trend, as they conceded a huge lead of 190.

To make it worse for the tourists, lead spinner Jack Leach was hobbling, after hurting his knee twice fielding.

England vice-captain Pope, 26, then conjured up arguably the best knock by a touring batter in India, smashing an epic 196 to propel England to 420 in the second innings.

He scooped and swept with impunity during his six-and-a-half-hour masterclass on how to smother spin on turning tracks on the Indian sub-continent. 

"I haven't seen a better exhibition of sweeping and reverse sweeping ever in these conditions against that quality of bowling," said India coach Rahul Dravid.

Pope's knock, the only hundred in the match, allowed England to set India a tricky target of 231, before Hartley took over.

The left-arm spinner, who bled 131 runs in his 25 overs in the first innings of his debut test, claimed 7/62 in his second to seal what Stokes called the greatest victory under his leadership.

After India's frontline batters let down the hosts, Ravichandran Ashwin and Srikar Bharat forged a half-century stand, before their lower order caved in and they were all out for 202. 

With a result in sight, the session was extended by half an hour and, fittingly, Hartley sealed England's win, when India No.11 Mohammed Siraj charged out, only to be stumped.

England's victory came hours after West Indies stunned world champions Australia at Brisbane and both contests proved a great advertisement for the long format, which has been reeling under the onslaught of franchise cricket.

Stokes has been harping on the need to make test cricket more exciting and the England captain has explained why he thought it was their best win under his leadership.

"We've had some incredible victories, but considering where we are and who we playing against, the position we found ourselves going into our second innings... it's a big reason as to why I feel this is our best victory since I've been captain."