Vaughan positive despite India near-miss

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 9:59 [IST]
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England captain Michael Vaughan was in confident mood after seeing his side denied victory in the first Test against India here at Lord's by the slimmest of margins.

And he said England could take heart from a similar situation during their ultimately successful Ashes-winning campaign against Australia two years when, having been deprived of a win at Old Trafford, they went on to enjoy a victory at Trent Bridge, where the second Test against India starts on Friday.

England needed just one more wicket at Lord's when bad light and subsequent rain halted play on the last day with India, at 282 for nine, on the brink of going 1-0 down in the three-match series.

So gloomy was the light in the final few overs that were possible here on Monday that Vaughan brought himself on to bowl his occasional off-spin in partnership with specialist slow left-armer Monty Panesar as England tried to keep the game going long enough for them to collect that elusive tenth wicket.

However, after the light had worsened, experienced umpires Steve Bucknor and Simon Taufel eventually called a halt shortly before the scheduled tea interval with the impressive Mahendra Singh Dhoni 76 not out after more than three hours at the crease.

"There were no complaints from me," Vaughan told reporters. "If I had been on the batting side I would have wanted to go off because it was pretty dark."

That England, who started the fifth day needing seven wickets for victory, came so close was a testament to the quality of an inexperienced four-man attack missing the injured pace trio Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

But the recalled James Anderson, playing his first home Test since 2004, took Test-best figures of five for 42 in India's first innings and finished the match with seven in all, having consistently swung the ball off a good length.

Ryan Sidebottom, back in the Test side this season after six years on the sidelines, took six wickets in the match and debutant fast bowler Chris Tremlett endorsed his selection with four.

The performance of the quicks meant that, unusually in recent times, England were not over-reliant on Panesar for both wickets and control in the field.

Indeed this was arguably England's best collective pace bowling display since their 2005 Ashes triumph when Flintoff, Harmison and the injury-prone Simon Jones rattled Australia.

"There was a lot of talk before the match about the fact we were going in with a young team," said Vaughan, whose colleague Kevin Pietersen was named man-of-the-match for a second innings 134 which left India with a tough target of 380 for victory.

"We played very positively, a really good game, unfortunately we just couldn't get that last wicket."

He added: "We batted well and I thought our young bowlers bowled extremely well. We put a really experienced Indian line-up under a lot of pressure.

"It is probably the best we've bowled since 2005, the four of them produced performances which they all can be very proud of."

Vaughan dismissed suggestions England might be down after this result by pointing to how the 2005 team overcame the disappointment of seeing Australia, who'd lost nine wickets, cling on for a draw at Old Trafford to win the subsequent Trent Bridge Test and so go 2-1 up in the series.

"We went to Trent Bridge and produced a really good performance there. Like then we have to get ahead of the opposition early when we start again."

India captain Rahul Dravid, who'd seen his side lose matches in Jamaica and Durban in recent years just before the elements intervened, said: "There was a sense of relief in the dressing room.

"You can never have the same feeling as winning the Test match but it will give us confidence going into the second Test level.

"The thought did cross my mind that in previous Tests we were left knowing if we had batted for an extra half-hour we could have saved the match. It's just nice to get away with one of those rather than losing one."

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