Ben Stokes’ stellar run as England captain could see him overtake Steve Waugh’s record

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Stokes said England’s come-from-behind win over India by 28 runs in the opening Test in Hyderabad was his “greatest” as captain.

The tourists overcame a stiff challenge from the hosts to get past a deficit of 190 runs at the start of their second innings with a masterful 196 from Ollie Pope.

England set India a victory target of 231 and bowled out the hosts for 202 in the final over on day four, with debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley returning figures of 7-62.

“We have had a lot of fantastic moments as a team, great victories but given where we are, and who are playing, I think it’s our greatest triumph since I have been captain,” Stokes told TNT Sports.

“For Tom Hartley to get nine wickets on debut, and Ollie Pope to get a big hundred … is incredible. But everyone contributed.”

The hosts had only lost three of their previous 46 Tests in India and had never been beaten on home soil after taking a first-innings lead of 100 runs or more.

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India have not suffered a home Test series defeat since England’s triumph in 2012.

“Considering where we are and who we (were) playing against, the position we found ourselves going into our second innings of batting, just sitting here now and say we’re 1-0 up, it’s a big reason as to why I feel this is our best victory since I’ve been captain,” Stokes added.

Stokes succeeded Joe Root as Test captain in 2022 after the Ashes loss in Australia and has since transformed the team into a winning unit along with coach Brendon McCullum.

And if he continues his stellar run, he could overtake former Aussie skipper Steve Waugh for a remarkable all-time record.

In his 20 matches at the helm, the gutsy all-rounder has won 14, lost five and drawn one, giving him a remarkable 70 per cent win rate.

Waugh, who captained 57 matches, won 72 per cent of his games as skipper.

Their attacking ‘Bazball’ style has brought England 14 victories in 19 Tests. Stokes played his part with a counterattacking 70 in England’s first-innings 246 and a fearless approach was also evident in Ben Duckett’s 47 in the team’s second innings.

Pope remained defiant as he used the sweep and the reverse sweep to counter the formidable Indian spinners on a turning pitch.

Stokes, who is playing the series only as a batsman after knee surgery, said win or lose, the team will stick to their gameplan.

“When you are part of a successful team over a two-year period like we have been, you can start thinking about the result,” he said.

“That’s my responsibility, to stay true to myself. All that stuff is going to stay the same, but how are we going to get better, keep propelling ourselves forward like we have over the last two years.”

England also claimed an opening victory in 2021 before losing the four-match series 3-1, but Stokes will be hoping for a another shock win in the second game which starts Friday in Visakhapatnam.

“As captain I want everyone to give themselves the best opportunity to go out there and perform,” Stokes added.

“It’s not always going to happen but as long as we are doing the right things, we are giving ourselves the best chance.” The five-match series also includes games in Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamsala, concluding in March.