Haseeb Hameed impresses Boycott with best England debut for years
Teenager falls short of a century but wins over observers as England almost pull off a shock win in the first Test against India
England head into this week's second Test against India in Visakhapatnam in good spirits, buoyed by their impressive display in Rajkot, where they also forced an improbable victory on the final day.
There were good performances throughout, with centuries for Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes, and seven wickets for Adil Rashid. But the match may be best remembered for the debut of England's teenage opener Haseeb Hameed, who hit a composed 31 in the first innings and a classy 82 in the second.
It certainly impressed coach Trevor Bayliss, says Ali Martin of The Guardian. "An all-round performance with few passengers prompted Bayliss to describe it as the best he has overseen during his 18 months as head coach in terms of effort."
Bayliss was moved to compare Hameed to the great Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, describing him as having the potential to be "a very very good player".
Having tried and failed to find an opening partner for Cook, England may finally have done so, says Martin. Hameed made "perhaps the most composed Test debut since Joe Root announced his arrival in Nagpur four years ago".
Nevermind Root, Geoffrey Boycott says Hameed's debut was as good as Cook's first appearance ten years ago in Nagpur. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the former Yorkshire opener is fulsome in his praise of a player who many believe shares his attributes.
"Hameed looks the part and lets the ball come to him, plays with relaxed soft hands to make the ball die if he does not middle it or nick it. He looks an opener with a sound defence but is not passive. He has a nice range of shots to go with good composure," he says.
"I am flattered that he is known as 'Baby Boycott'," adds Boycott Snr. "It is a compliment to me that his father showed him videos of me and wanted him to watch my technique." He has, adds Boycott, the "temperament, patience, concentration and technique" to succeed.
It's all very encouraging, says Mike Atherton in The Times.
"Humbled in Dhaka, written off as no-hopers, ridiculed in some quarters and seen as little more than fodder for India's spinners, Alastair Cook's team nearly pulled off one of the great heists against the world's number one-ranked side, with India six wickets down and teetering when time was called," he says.
The teenager also played his part in setting up England's second innings' declaration. Hameed's 82 "was astonishing for its skill and maturity, the precision of his footwork, the softness of his hands, the sureness of his defence and his game awareness", says Atherton. "It was not quite the perfect ending, but what a start he has made."