ENGLAND’S attacking “Bazball” style of play trumped India at home in the first Test, but pundits and cricketers on Monday (29) said the hosts remain favourites in the fivematch series.
Rohit Sharma’s India lost the nailbiting opener by 28 runs in Hyderabad last Sunday (28) on day four of the Test, after being ahead in the match for most of the opening three days. England’s fearless “Bazball” brand of play – devised by coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Ben Stokes – has brought the team 14 victories in 19 Tests.
“Bazball: Believe the hype”, a headline in the Indian Express daily read.
It was India’s fourth loss in their last 47 Tests at home since 2013 – and their first-ever after leading by 190 runs in the first innings of a home game. “It’s just a wake-up call for India,” former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports.
“England have shown that they’re not a side to be messed with,” he added. “This is a confident side; they have great self-belief in the way they are playing the game. They are fully behind their captain. They are fully behind their coach.”
Home spinners, led by Ravichandran Ashwin, came under attack by the opposition’s fearless approach led by Ollie Pope’s 196, an innings built around sweeps and reverse sweeps. “The India team underachieve more than any team that I’ve seen in sport,” former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
But he said England could not rest on their laurels.
“I still think India are favourites to win the series, because they will react… But India will be second-guessing themselves about what pitches to prepare,” he said.
“I said before the series I thought India were better off preparing a flatter wicket than one with more turn,” he added.
India faltered in their chase of 231 and after Rohit fell for 39 off debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, who returned figures of 7-62, the innings crumbled.
“Hartley and Soul”, the Times of India newspaper headline read.
The pitch in Hyderabad was not a rank turner, but offered help to the spinners like any other sub-continent wicket.
However, it was the England spinners who got more out of the conditions than the experienced home trio of Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Ashwin, an off-spinner, and Jadeja, a left-arm orthodox, shared five wickets between them in England’s second innings, but the tourists overcame a big trail to post 420.
Pope’s unorthodox approach blunted the spin threat and later England’s slow bowlers made it count. Hartley rattled the Indian chase along with an injured Jack Leach and part-timer Joe Root.
But India coach Rahul Dravid said his team’s spinners will come back strong in the second Test starting on Friday (2) in Visakhapatnam.