England delivered a stunning comeback in the first Test against India, defeating the hosts by 28 runs at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad. Trailing by 190 runs in the first innings, England, led by Ben Stokes, mounted a remarkable resurgence, with Ollie Pope’s outstanding innings of 196 setting up a target of 231 for India in the fourth innings. However, debutant Tom Hartley’s superb bowling performance, claiming 7/62, proved too much for India to chase down.
In the aftermath of India’s loss, captain Rohit Sharma’s leadership has faced scrutiny, particularly regarding his tactics during the second innings. Former England spinner Monty Panesar expressed the opinion that India sorely missed the aggressive presence of star batsman Virat Kohli, emphasizing Kohli’s intensity and aura, which could have challenged the England players.
“If Virat Kohli was playing, he would have been in the faces of these England players and told them, ‘Hey, do it again, let’s see how good you are.’ This is an England team that is not scared of losing. They don’t fear failure. In the next four games, they (England) would still play without the fear of failure,” Monty Panesar remarked.
Highlighting Kohli’s significant impact, Monty Panesar emphasized the need for Rohit Sharma to demonstrate his ability to lead without Kohli and turn the series around.
“Virat Kohli has that presence and intensity, which is missing currently in the India team. Virat Kohli has that aura and presence. If England wins the next Test match, then India will be in big trouble. This is a big moment for Rohit Sharma; he needs to show that he can turn around the match without Virat Kohli,” he added.
Looking ahead, Panesar cautioned that if Ollie Pope and Tom Hartley maintain their impressive performances, England could potentially secure a 5-0 series victory.
“If Ollie Pope and Tom Hartley continue to play like this, it will be a whitewash, it will be 5-0 for England. It can happen if Ollie Pope and Tom Hartley play like this,” Monty Panesar warned.
India faces additional challenges as Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul are ruled out of the second Test due to injuries, prompting the inclusion of Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, and Saurabh Kumar as replacements.