Second Test

India v England

At Ahmedabad, December 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Drawn. Toss: England.

After England's defeat in the opening Test at Mohali, predictions of another Indian whitewash filled the air, but at Ahmedabad Hussain's team proved more resilient than Graham Gooch's nine years earlier. Even without Thorpe, who decided only hours before the start to fly home at once for family reasons, England dominated large tracts of the match, but ultimately lacked the firepower to force the victory that would have levelled the series.

Waiting to be bowled out, 373 ahead, was overly cautious for a side 1-0 down in a three-Test rubber. Hussain was wary of the damage that Tendulkar, in particular, could inflict on his inexperienced attack. He left India's batsmen just over a day to negotiate and, on a comatose pitch that had failed to offer the expected sharp turn, they did this with ease. A ponderous century opening stand between Das and Dasgupta - at barely two an over - directed them to safety at 198 for three. With both captains apparently more interested in avoiding defeat than chasing victory, the final day was virtually unwatchable.

Both sides made two changes from Mohali. Vaughan stepped in for Thorpe, and Giles was welcomed back in place of Ormond. For India, Sehwag returned after his suspension and Srinath after injury, while Iqbal Siddiqui and Bangar dropped out. Hussain won the toss for the first time since the Lahore Test, 13 months before, and Trescothick and Butcher celebrated with a positive century stand for the first wicket. Butcher's eventual dismissal was the first of ten in the match for Kumble, which took him to 299 Test wickets. England repeatedly fell prey to his googly which, allied to the ever-present top-spinner, made playing back to him a dangerous occupation. Four batsmen succumbed to the googly on the first day, including Trescothick, who drove and slog-swept the spinners stoutly, but dabbed to the wicket-keeper on 99.

Hussain, leg-before to a ball snaking down the leg side, and Vaughan, given out caught off bat and pad, were both left cursing umpire Robinson. With Flintoff 's technique against spin proving hopelessly unsubtle, England needed a maiden Test century from Craig White to pass 400. Seven and a half years and 23 Tests after his international debut, White's vulnerable yet unquestioned talent finally held sway in an innings that, suitably, was stylish one minute, fretful the next. It had its good fortune - during a 105-run partnership with Foster, Dasgupta failed to stump him, on 44, off Harbhajan, and dropped a simple chance off Srinath when he was 63; in the same over, Kumble dropped a difficult one when White hooked to long leg. For all his wonders with the ball, Kumble was harshly jeered by the crowd as he left for treatment on a damaged hand.

England's first-innings lead of 116 was largely thanks to an indefatigable display by Giles who, beset by heel and Achilles problems, trundled up to the crease like an old wheelie bin, but claimed a Test-best five for 67 from 43.3 overs in sapping heat. Giles had bowled only 17 overs since July, and met each congratulatory huddle as if he feared he might topple over. He judged it the achievement of his career.

Giles made short work of India's last four wickets, the final indignity for a partisan crowd. Earlier, they had hero-worshipped Tendulkar towards his 27th Test hundred - level with Allan Border and Steve Waugh, behind only Bradman and Gavaskar - and then abruptly lost interest from the moment that he drove Hoggard to the juggling Hussain at mid-on shortly before tea. Tendulkar was supreme in the afternoon, ridiculing England's packed off-side fields by whipping balls from outside off through the leg side at will; three such strokes, in one memorable over from Hoggard, brought him 11 runs. Hussain's captaincy was enthusiastic, clear-sighted and, at times, uncom-promisingly negative: he never allowed the game to drift, marshalled his limited resources intelligently and posed Tendulkar question upon question, most of which were answered perfectly. It was as compelling as the final hours were dull.

On the fourth day, Butcher defied a stomach bug that had afflicted much of the squad to keep England's victory ambitions alive. Dropped on 59 by the fallible Dasgupta, he gutsed it out for four and a quarter hours until he cut to slip, eight short of a century. But he had done enough to suggest that his demons against spin were becoming a thing of the past. India's fielding was woeful, but England, with Vaughan also unwell, were in no mood to be hurried into a declaration, and the draw grew ever more likely.

Man of the Match: C. White.
Close of play: First day, England 277-6 (White 42, Foster 15); Second day, India 71-2 (Dravid 5, Tendulkar 2); Third day, England 15-0 (Butcher 5, Trescothick 10); Fourth day, India 17-0 (Das 11, Dasgupta 6).

© John Wisden & Co