‘Rohit’s captaincy caught wanting…': Ex-England star criticises India skipper | Crickit

‘Rohit Sharma’s captaincy caught wanting…': Ex-England star blames India skipper's tactics for loss in 1st Test

Jan 30, 2024 10:09 AM IST

Former England pacer Steve Harmison said Rohit Sharma's captaincy was not up to the mark in the second innings of the first Test.

India had many chances to hold the first Test by the scruff of its neck and finish it. Their first innings with the bat where they could have taken the lead beyond England's reach and with the ball in the second innings when they had England 163 for 5, were the most prominent ones. But they couldn't capitalise on any of them. In their first innings, three players breached the 80-run mark but none of them converted that into a really big score. Almost all of India's batters got starts but most of them threw it away.

India's captain Rohit Sharma with wicket-keeper Srikar Bharat(PTI)
India's captain Rohit Sharma with wicket-keeper Srikar Bharat(PTI)

Despite this, they managed to take a huge lead of 190 runs. On most occasions, that would be enough for an innings win. And looked quite possible when England lost captain Ben Stokes with still 27 more runs to make India bat again. But that is where the match started to go south for India. Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes started the England turnaround of the ages.

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Pope used reverse sweep like it seldom has been against England spinners while Foakes trusted his defence. The duo put together 112 runs for the sixth wicket before an Axar Patel delivery kept really low to rattle Foakes' stumps.

Pope and Foakes batted really well, no questions about that but could India captain Rohit Sharma have done anything different to stop them? England were ahead by 85 runs when Foakes was dismissed towards the End of Day 3. With only four England wickets to take, the ball was still in India's court. One would back India chase a 150-200 total easily on a pitch where the odd ball was turning and keeping low but there was nothing that made batting long seem an impossible task.

But on Day 4, Pope put on two more crucial partnerships with Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley. The first one was of 64 and the second 80. It made sense to keep a defensive field to Pope, who was handling India's spinners well but Rohit did not attack much even against Rehan and Hartley. The lower-order batters kept the scoreboard ticking without much pressure against Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar.

Former England pacer Steve Harmison said Rohit's captaincy was not up to the mark in the second innings. "Rohit Sharma's captaincy got caught wanting in that second innings," Harmison told ESPNCricinfo.

The 230-run lead that England got was not beyond India but it was going to be tough. And so it was. India were bowled out for 202, succumbing to the first-ever defeat at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad. This was also the first instance when India lost a Test at home after taking a lead of over 100 runs.

Harmison said a lot of credit for this must go to England's captain Ben Stokes. "It's an unbelievable win. I think there's only one person who thought England could win and that was Ben Stokes. And he got 10 other people to believe as well. Not many would have given England a chance when they were 190 behind. But this is the beauty of this team. They don't look at the scoreboard. They just think let's just get to the third innings and whatever it takes to win it on the fourth," he said.

Harmison heaped praise on Pope, who scored 196. "For a man whose highest score was 34 in 9 innings in India to go and get 196 was unbelievable. I'm so happy for Olli Pope. So proud and pleased for him. It gives England a great chance. I still think India are the favourites but this defeat will give India a lot to think about."

The second Test match begins on Thursday in Visakhapatnam.

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