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Updated January 28th, 2024 at 20:56 IST

231 was definitely gettable, we didn't bat well enough: Rohit

India skipper Rohit Sharma lamented his top batmen's failure in the opening Test of the five-match series against England here on Sunday, saying they lacked the fight and character showed by the team's lower-order batters after being set a "gettable" 231-run target.

rohit sharma on capetown pitch
Rohit Sharma | Image:X
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India skipper Rohit Sharma lamented his top batmen's failure in the opening Test of the five-match series against England here on Sunday, saying they lacked the fight and character showed by the team's lower-order batters after being set a "gettable" 231-run target.

India were all out for 202 to lose the match by 28 runs, completing a remarkable turnaround a day after conceding a huge first-innings lead of 190 runs.

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Ollie laid the foundation for a famous English win with a monumental knock of 196 before debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley finished with excellent figures of 7/62 in the second innings.

"Hard to pinpoint where it went wrong. With a lead of 190 we were in control but exceptional batting - probably one of the best I've seen in Indian conditions by an overseas player, well played Ollie Pope," Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

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"I thought 230 was gettable but it wasn't to be. Thought we bowled in the right areas, we analysed what went well and what didn't. But you've got to take your hat off and say well played to Pope.

"Hard to look at one or two things. We didn't bat well enough to get to that score. 20-30 runs anything is possible. The lower order fought well and showed the top order (how to do it). We didn't take some chances but that can happen, it's the first game of the series," Rohit added.

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"The lower order fought really well there. You need to be brave enough, which I thought we weren't." England captain Ben Stokes described it as the "greatest" victory since he took over Test captaincy from Joe Root.

"Since I've taken the captaincy on, where we are and who we're playing against, it's 100% our greatest victory," Stokes said.

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"My first time coming out here and being captain in these conditions. I'm a great observer, I've watched how India operate in the field. Absolutely thrilled for everyone, Tom Hartley nine wickets, Ollie Pope first Test back after shoulder surgery.

"Tom came into the squad for the first time, he's heard a lot had a lot of confidence. I was willing to give him a long spell regardless of what happened. Whether that was the reason he got seven wickets and won us the game, who knows?" Stokes, who played a vital knock of 70 in England's first-innings total of 246 all out, was effusive in his praise for Pope.

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"(Pope) Seen some special innings from Joe Root, but the whole innings on a difficult wicket, for me that's the greatest innings by an Englishman on the subcontinent.

"If you lose, you wake up in the morning, still have a good crack and life and move on. We don't fear failure. Go out and express yourself and you'll be all right." Player of the match Pope was modest in his analysis of his epic knock, saying he was bit luckier in the second innings when he got a reprieve from Axar Patel after completing his century.

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"To come here to India, toughest place as a better and put in a winning performance, it's head and shoulders above the rest. I got a bit luckier in the second innings, played and missed a few," Pope said.

"Wanted to be positive with my sweep and reverse-sweep. I've tinkered through my career, changed my technique specifically for this series. The family have had early starts but can catch up on some sleep now." India's chase of 231 went horribly wrong once Hartley (7/62) spun into India's top-order, igniting a rot that saw the hosts getting bowled out in the final over of the day.

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England now lead the five-match series 1-0.

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Published January 28th, 2024 at 20:56 IST

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