London: India captain Saurav Ganguly insisted his side could come back to win their four-Test series against England despite losing the opener by a crushing 170 runs here at Lord's on Monday.
Set a mammoth 568 to win, India was bowled out after lunch on the final day for 397 with all-rounder Ajit Agarkar providing some consolation courtesy of an unbeaten 109 - his maiden Test hundred. But with too many of their star names in the top order failing twice, India struggled. And its attack, without retired new ball star Javagal Srinath and omitted off spinner Harbhajan Singh, looked a bowler light on a good batting pitch. However, Ganguly, looking to lead India to a first Test series triumph outside the sub-continent since a 2-0 victory in England back in 1986, said confidence was not an issue. "I don't think it is going to be a problem. We have come back and won the next Test and series before. England played very well but we believe that if we play well we have a chance of winning. You have got to be positive at this level." And he insisted he had no regrets about leaving out Harbhajan, one of modern cricket's leading slow bowlers along with teammate Anil Kumble, who did play at Lord's. "We didn't think that on this wicket the ball would spin. It is not difficult for a captain when you have two world-class spinners. The person who would have been left out was Ajit who scored a hundred." Sachin Tendulkar left spectators disappointed with scores of just 16 and 12. But Ganguly told the master batsman's legion of fans to remain optimistic about their hero's future. "One Test failure shouldn't matter at all. He'll be more determined to succeed in the next game." And England captain Nasser Hussain admitted it was only a matter of time before one member of a powerful India batting line-up featuring the likes of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Venkatsai Laxman, not to mention Ganguly and Tendulkar posted a big score. "We can't expect to keep kidding them out for four Tests," said Hussain. "If Ganguly, Sehwag or Tendulkar gets in and makes a big hundred that will be our biggest test." England was without injured first choice bowlers Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick and Alex Tudor but Hussain said it was too soon to say if the younger brigade, such as debutant Simon Jones had 'arrived' at Test level.
"It's encouraging if they perform on a regular basis not just once. class players do it repeatedly." But Hussain said of Jones, who made 44 batting at number 10 in England's first innings and finished with match figures of four 129, "He had great belief in himself. "That was one of the strongest batting line-ups we've come up against and Jones impressed his teammates with everything he did," added Hussain of the 23-year-old son of former England fast bowler Jeff Jones. "Most importantly he put the ball in the right areas, bowled people out.
It was not just short and wide, running in to bowl at 90 miles per hour. People usually have one or the other (pace or accuracy). He seems to have both." Introducing a further note of caution, Hussain said that both Jones (side) and pace- bowling all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (groin) had slight injuries, which will nevertheless be of concern to the England management given the poor fitness records of its fast bowlers. Looking ahead Hussain said it was important to retain perspective. "People have come in but let's not make out they've come through. Don't take anything away from Gough and Caddick.
"We've got to address the balance of what they've done over five, six, seven years against a couple of matches. But at the moment there is competition for places and it should make for some interesting selection meetings both for the next few Test and the Ashes."