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March 5, 2006
Andrew Flintoff, the England captain, said his team didn't panic following the late assault launched by India. "It [India's charge] was explosive. But we knew it would have required some effort from them to chase the total that we had set," Flintoff told reporters.
Facing a daunting target of 368 in three sessions, India produced a late flurry after tea with Irfan Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni leading the charge before the two teams agreed to a draw with 108 runs required for a home win from over 11 overs. "The team showed lot of character. We are proud of the way we performed. With three debutants in the team, we competed with one of the best teams for five days," Flintoff said.
"I enjoyed the captaincy, concentrated on doing simple things correctly. I am grateful for the help by the teammates, particularly Paul Collingwood, Andrew Strauss and Steve Harmison." Flintoff said it was Matthew Hoggard with 6 for 57 in the first innings who put England in control. "Hoggy bowled us into the match. He showed control and discipline on a wicket that was not conducive for pace bowling." Among the debutants, Alastair Cook, the 21-year-old opener, and Monty Panesar, the left arm spinner, also the first Sikh to play for England, received special mention from Flintoff.
"To get 60 and 100 [in two innings] against the two best spinners in the world says a lot about Cook. Panesar bowled well. He was excited by the way the crowd egged him on whenever he came on to bowl."
Ian Botham, the former England captain and commentator, looking ahead to Thursday's second Test in Mohali, wondered if England might consider recalling Liam Plunkett if the Durham seamer proves his fitness. "The word is that the wicket in Mohali has a bit more pace and carry than the others so they could revert to one spinner and bring in another seamer,'' he said.
Botham too had some good words about both Cook and Panesar. "The guys on debut have done magnificently'', and added that a draw was a good result given the problems England had going into the opening Test. "Overall I think England will be very pleased.''
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