England go one-nil up in the series after conclusive victory at Lord's

Ralph Dellor

July 29, 2002

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England had to work hard - rather harder than might have been expected - to secure their victory, but at half past two on a hot and sultry afternoon, Craig White bowled a ball to Ashish Nehra who pushed forward to give a catch to Graham Thorpe at second slip and England had won by 170 runs. Ajit Agarkar, who had gone into the match with a Test average of 7.81, was left not out on 109 as he and Nehra had forced England to sweat through a record last wicket partnership of 63 before they were separated and celebrations could begin.

Unlike their more illustrious colleagues, VVS Laxman and Agarkar provided stubborn resistance to England's bowlers on the final morning. With England moving in for the kill, the batsmen refused to be flustered as they showed great resolve in face of the inevitable. Both passed fifty and runs flowed as they exploited the vast areas left vacant so that close catchers could be deployed all round the bat.

Sixty runs came in the first hour as Nasser Hussain juggled his resources until he found the right answer. For the fourth time in the innings, a bowling change resulted in a wicket in the new bowler's first over. The pair had added 126 for the seventh wicket and had defied the attack in all its guises for 209 balls when Simon Jones induced Laxman to drive on the off side. The ball flew to point where Michael Vaughan held the catch.

Still runs accumulated; still the slips, gullies and short legs were in attendance. The new batsman, Anil Kumble might not have appeared as comfortable as Laxman had, but he survived in company with the admirable Agarkar until giving Matthew Hoggard a simple return catch. Zaheer Khan's stay was a short one before he edged Craig White to Alec Stewart, but Agarkar and Ashish Nehra at least ensured that the catering staff were required at lunch.

They probably had the dishes washed and dried when Nehra brought up the fifty partnership with a disdainfully hooked six off Andrew Flintoff. Then Agarkar reached his hundred by pushing Jones through the covers for two when on 99. His first run was a mixture of single and celebration, while he probably floated back for the second without his feet touching the ground.

Of course, it could not last and after the batsmen had enjoyed their fun in delaying England's inevitable win, White found the ball that brought the entertainment to an end and England head for Trent Bridge leading the series one-nil.

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