From being hit for six off his first ball in Test cricket to becoming the first English spinner since Jim Laker to take a seven-wicket haul on debut. Tom Hartley take a bow.
What a remarkable performance from the young left-arm spinner from Lancashire and what a truly incredible victory for England here to ignite this five-Test series.
It ended after a fourth day of extraordinary drama with just four balls of the extra half hour remaining and with England completing one of the great comebacks in Test history.
Hartley, whose first bowling display in Test cricket was the stuff of nightmares, had shown real character to take six of the nine wickets to fall to leave India on the brink of just their fourth defeat in a home Test match in more than 11 years.
But from the nadir of 119 for seven India had clawed their way to within sight of their target of 230 and looked certain to take the first Test into a last day when last pair Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj faced Hartley’s last over.
England debutant Tom Hartley (C) was the star of the show during a famous first Test victory
Hartley took seven India wickets as the home side collapsed on day four of the Test
Mohammed Siraj was stumped off the bowling of Hartley as England won with five balls to go
The visitors pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Test history in Hyderabad
Siraj, inexplicably, charged Hartley’s second ball with shadows starting to lengthen in front of another good crowd at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium and Ben Foakes whipped off the bails. Cue English celebration and the most breathtaking win yet for bazball England.
The only question at the start of the third day was whether England could possibly take it into a fourth, so behind were they to an India side who simply never lose at home.
They did a bit better than that. Not only did they manage to extend the game into yesterday but they turned it on its head, from the low of a miserable first two days to one of the greatest victories not only under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum but in their history.
Truly, it does not much better than this. From a first innings deficit of 190 England gave themselves a sniff of victory with a quite brilliant 196 from Ollie Pope in their 420, their highest second innings score in India.
Then Hartley, who looked out of his depth in the first innings, took over to bowl better surely than at any time in his short and reasonably modest first-class career.
Rohit Sharma made a respectable 39 before he was removed by Hartley via lbw
Joe Root trapped KL Rahul as England tore through India’s top order batsmen
What a triumph for Bazball and what a glorious day this was for Test cricket after West Indies earlier pulled off a highly unlikely victory against Australia at the Gabba. The grand old form of the game is alive and kicking hard in Hyderabad and Brisbane.
While raising a glass of rum to West Indies let us concentrate on Hyderabad for this was a victory for the ages for England and one that has set up a series that even the most optimistic of England supporters feared might end up in a hiding.
Remember, India have won their last 16 home series and have not lost against anyone here since Alastair Cook and Andy Flower’s famous victory with England in 2012. Goodness, India have lost just three of the last 45 Tests on their own patch and had never lost any home Test after gaining a first innings lead of more than a hundred.
Here they have been up against an England side who gambled on a three-spinner attack, with only one bona-fide seamer in Mark Wood for the first time in their Test history, and then saw a part-timer in Joe Root outshine the lot of them with the ball.
England captain Ben Stokes (C) produced another moment as he ran out Ravindra Jadeja
One of those inexperienced specialists stood up yesterday, though, and it was the man who was smashed for two sixes in his first over of Test cricket and 94 in all in his first nine over spell full of long hops and half trackers.
There was a reason Ben Stokes persisted with Hartley and showed such faith in him in the first innings and that is because he is a sympathetic handler of all his bowlers, not least his spinners, and was desperate for Hartley to gain his confidence.
He did that yesterday by taking the first four India wickets to fall, the first two in three balls thanks to catches by Pope, and produced top quality slow left-arm bowling rarely seen in his 20 first-class appearances for Lancashire. Who needs Nathan Lyon, Lancashire’s new overseas signing, at Old Trafford after this?
Hartley’s opening spell of three for 21 in eight overs set England up for the charge after he had earlier played an impressive supporting role with the bat alongside Pope.
This was an innings that touched greatness from Pope and it was one that epitomised the way England are determined to play whatever conditions and no matter the opposition.
Ollie Pope was dismissed just four runs shy of a double century during the morning session
Pope, returning here after the second major shoulder injury of his career, would have been excused for being circumspect after struggling to one off 11 balls in the first innings.
Not a bit of it. Instead he reverse swept his second ball, not entirely convincingly, and always sought to take the positive route throughout his 278-ball stay.
England went into the fourth day 126 ahead and with Pope needing to bat for at least another hour if they were to have any chance of pulling off one of their greatest wins.
He did better than that. He batted for two hours to extend the lead to 230 and moved to within four runs of his second double century in the last year before he fell trying one of the reverse ramps – not so much a Dilscoop, more a Pope Propel – that were a feature of this innings, alongside an array of reverse sweeps.
This, though, was so, so much better than the 205 he made against Ireland at Lord’s at the start of a summer that was to come to a crashing halt for him when he dislocated his right shoulder during the second Test against Australia.
India captain Rohit Sharma was quick to show respect to Pope after his wonderful innings
That innings, with respect to the Irish, was as undemanding as Test cricket can be. This one, against an India side virtually unbeatable at home, was the complete opposite.
It was not flawless. Axar Patel dropped Pope off one of those reverse sweeps on the third evening on 110 and yesterday KL Rahul offered him another life when Pope guided Mohammed Siraj straight to him at slip on 186.
No matter. By the time he finished Pope had the fourth highest score by any visiting batsman in a second innings in India and he had ended any possible doubts that he is going to carry on being a significant part of this England side and its probable next captain.
And all from a man who could not manage even a single half century in eight attempts the last time England toured India, pre-Bazball and his elevation at his own behest to No3, three years ago. Pope, always full of promise, has now come of age.
Pope’s brilliant 196 was the catalyst for England historic comeback in the first Test
He would not have been able to build such a commanding lead had it not been for the help of Hartley. The Lancastrian had shown promise with the bat in the first innings before his chastening introduction with the ball and now he again showed that he will be a more than useful tail-ender for England, with hits down the ground and sweeps of his own.
Hartley put on 60 for the eighth wicket with Pope before the last three England wickets went down for the addition of just one run, seemingly allowing India to have a slight edge in their pursuit of 231 even without the king of the chase in Virat Kohli. Not a bit of it.
After Hartley made inroads Root joined in with the important wicket of KL Rahul and Stokes pulled off a brilliant run out to get rid of Ravindra Jadeja, a direct hit of the stumps after flicking the ball out of the back of his hand before nonchalantly mouthing ‘that’s out.’
When Jack Leach, restricted by the knee injury that makes him a doubt for the second Test in Visakhapatnam on Friday, found the edge of Shreyas Iyer India were 119 for seven and seemingly down and out.
Bharat and Ashwin changed all that by holding up England in a stand of 57 for the eighth wicket ended when Bharat was bowled by a beauty from Hartley, who had only one first-class haul in his career before this.
India’s resistance held up England until Stokes asked and was granted an extra half hour and it was enough – just – to earn England victory when both Ravichandran Ashwin and then, with only 29 still needed, Siraj charged Hartley and were stumped. A haul of seven for 62 and a 28-run win. Amazing.