Ben Duckett insisted there was never any question of Tom Hartley “hiding away” after his first ball in Test cricket was hit for six, with England rallying behind the debutant.
After being bowled out for 246, the tourists opted to open the bowling with their Lancastrian newcomer.
The left-arm spinner is used to fronting up with the new ball in limited-overs cricket but had never done so in his first-class career before he went head-to-head with Yashavi Jaiswal in front of 30,000 fans in Hyderabad.
Welcome to the club, @tomhartley100 👏
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 25, 2024
It was not a bad loosener but disappeared all the way over the ropes as Jaiswal threw everything into a slog sweep that set the tone for India’s aggressive response of 119 for one.
The blow meant the 24-year-old joined a short list of players who have endured such a start, with Zimbabwe’s Sohag Gazi and South Africa’s Faf Du Plessis thought to be the only others, and another six followed just four balls later.
More conservative captains might have ended the experiment early but, although the runs continued to flow, Ben Stokes gave his new team-mate an uninterrupted nine-over spell costing 63 runs.
He came close to repaying some of that faith with a close lbw shout against Shubman Gill and Duckett says Hartley was guaranteed resounding support.
“We all back Tommy,” said the opener. “You know what Stokesy is like, he will throw him the ball and back him all day.
“He gives him however many overs to bowl, where other captains might take you off after two overs and then you’re then hiding away for the rest of the game.
“That’s Stokesy: he keeps bowling him and Tom nearly gets Shubman at the end. I’m not quite sure how that is going over the stumps, but he came back really well. I wouldn’t say I appreciated it but he (Jaiswal) played well too.”
Duckett earlier shared a bright opening stand of 55 with Zak Crawley, a partnership which proved something of a false dawn as regular wickets followed them for the rest of their innings.
Stokes was the pick of the batters with a battling 70 from number six, including three sixes and six fours.
It was his first action of note since surgery on his left knee at the end of November and the skipper looked fighting fit as he worked hard to build a competitive total.
There was plenty of turn on offer throughout the day and if, as expected, there is more where that came from, Duckett feels England may be in a better position than they seem.
— ICC (@ICC) January 25, 2024
“I think we were over par to be honest. It was a tricky day one pitch with consistent spin from early on,” he said.
“Stokesy, to get us to where we are, was fantastic. Come day three, day four that could be a match-winning knock if the pitch keeps getting harder to bat on.
“Pay credit to India, they played well tonight and were really attacking. They don’t always go about it like that, so it shows they think the pitch is going to get quite a bit worse. That’s good signs for us.”