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At Nottingham, August 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Drawn. Toss: India. Test debuts: S. J. Harmison, R. W. T. Key; P. A. Patel.
It is not uncommon on the Monday of a Test match for the stewards to outnumber spectators, but the policy of reducing admission prices, and the prospect of England going 2-0 up, produced a final-day full house to see India bat through for a draw.
England ultimately came to look back with regret at their disappointing opening-day bowling performance, when India, having won the toss, made 210 for four in conditions ideal for seam and, in particular, swing. Hussain went into the game with five quick bowlers, basing his decision partly on the pitch, but also on the ten-green-bottles theory of having at least one of them still able to bowl come the final day.
With the attrition rate in the fast-bowling department beginning to make Hussain feel like Field Marshal Haig, selection was by now revolving around who was fit enough rather than good enough, and Simon Jones of Glamorgan had already proved his England credentials by ending an impressive debut at Lord's with a side strain. Curiously, in what might have been regarded as compassionate leave, England's physiotherapist had gone away on holiday, but his back-up staff were for once relatively underworked, with only Dominic Cork - who sustained minor knee damage attempting a run-out - requiring a visit to the couch. There was, none the less, a mass breakdown in the radar department, with only Matthew Hoggard able to locate the length and line required for the conditions. England opened with two swing bowlers, which doesn't happen very often these days. Ironically, Hoggard swung the ball far too much at times, and Trent Bridge's recent reputation for offering movement in the air - put down by some to altered aerodynamics after the addition of two new stands - did not actually produce many wickets.
Ganguly fought his way back to form and finally came up with something resembling a captain's innings, while first Agarkar and then Harbhajan showed that even tailenders could score at six an over with the ball swinging, as long as England were the opposition. With Steve Harmison producing bounce and hostility on his debut, England might still have won this match had it not been for the loss of a whole day over the first four days, to a combination of rain and bad light. However, this proved controversial in itself, with the umpires constantly peering at their light meters like Indiana Jones trying to negotiate an underground cavern armed with a box of matches, and regarding every passing cotton-wool cloud as a potential eclipse of the sun. For the most part, their myriad offers of the light were hopelessly out of synch with the clause requiring physical danger to be an essential part of the equation, and it reached laughable proportions when England's batsmen left the field on Saturday evening in what most people would have construed as bright sunshine.
By that time England were in a commanding position and seeking to secure four consecutive Test victories for the first time since 1991-92. A handsome and even occasionally restrained second Test century from Virender Sehwag had led to a no more than useful first innings for India, but a majestic 197 from Michael Vaughan had provided England with the launch pad to something colossal. This was Vaughan's third Test century of the summer, and with each one his strokeplay blossomed a little more. Having acquired a mindset of merely protecting his wicket early in his Test career, Vaughan was now unfurling off-side strokes to put Yorkshire's cricketing public in mind of Hutton, although in other areas - a Lancashire birthplace and a preference for a glass of Chardonnay over a pint of Tetley's - he was more a son of the adopted variety. His scoring-rate didn't have Yorkshire written all over it either: one more run would have given him 100 between lunch and tea, and all told his 197, a career-best, came off only 258 balls with 23 fours in 354 minutes.
Alec Stewart's frisky 87 off 92 balls took him past Mike Atherton's total of 7,728 Test runs and to fourth in the all-time England list. And Craig White narrowly missed out on a century as for the second match in a row, England's tail remembered how to wag. When India lost both openers early on in the second innings, they were effectively minus 249 for two and England on course to put the series in their pocket. India needed at least three of their big four to come good, and they did. With the pitch playing progressively easier, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly made the game virtually safe, although it still required an unbeaten 19 in 84 minutes from the 17-year-old wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel to eliminate any chance of England snatching victory via a frantic run-chase.
Man of the Match: M. P. Vaughan
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