September 5, 2002

Vaughan 182 gives England the initiative in decisive Test

Another classical hundred by Michael Vaughan, his third of the series, has given England the platform from which they should reach an impregnable total in the fourth npower Test against India at The AMP Oval. After Nasser Hussain won a vital toss under hazy late summer sunshine, Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher both made half centuries, bot once again the plaudits belonged to Vaughan, who finished unbeaten on 182 as England ended the day on 336 for two.

From the third ball of the morning, which Trescothick drove with characteristic brio to the extra cover boundary, England were in the ascendant. Vaughan was edgy at the outset, but Agarkar was expensive as Trescothick took three mid-wicket boundaries to hoist England's fifty. The Somerset left-hander completed his comeback fifty by twice driving Zaheer straight for four. But it was Zaheer who made India's first breakthrough, as Trescothick hooked from outside the off stump for Bangar to take a good catch, making ground to his left at deep backward square leg. Trescothick had made 57 (76 balls, nine fours).

Butcher joined Vaughan, who went to his 50 in the third over after lunch with a delightful cover drive off the back foot as Agarkar dropped short. He had a scare when he called for a single after pushing Agarkar to mid-off, and narrowly made his ground after Butcher sent him back. Offered room on his pads Butcher took a boundary off Zaheer, before stepping out to dispatch Harbhajan through extra cover. The two batsmen mixed strokeplay with caution, no doubt sensing a first innings holy grail of the type India found at Headingley. Ominously for the tourists, England's 200 came up for the loss of just one wicket just before tea.

A square cut off Kumble took Vaughan to 97, and after successive singles, a horrible misfield by Agarkar at mid-off let the Yorkshireman through to his fourth Test hundred of the summer (195 balls, 13 fours). He is the first to achieve the feat since Graham Gooch in 1990, and only four other batsman - Herbert Sutcliffe, the great Don Bradman, Denis Compton and Allan Lamb - have achieved it in the game's history. The 150 partnership was swiftly followed by Butcher's 50, as Ganguly searched for a breakthrough with growing desperation.

It came when Harbhajan, who had threatened more than most with turn and bounce, found the inside edge of Butcher's bat as he tried to sweep, and the ball ballooned up via his pad for Rahul Dravid to complete a two-handed catch above his head at slip. Butcher's disciplined 54 had included six fours and came off 145 deliveries.

Crawley, entering ahead of Hussain, began crisply with a swept four off Harbhajan. Vaughan went serenely to his second 150 of the series with a single off Agarkar, before bringing up England's 300 with a late cut off Kumble to the rope at third man. The new ball, taken without delay, failed to stem the flow as Crawley clipped Agarkar to the square-leg fence to take England to the highest Test total reached within a day this summer. If it felt like an Indian summer, the tourists would have preferred an early autumn.