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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Flintoff laments England batting
Andrew Flintoff
A downcast Flintoff leaves the field after falling lbw to Harbhajan
England captain Andrew Flintoff admitted his team had much to learn after they succumbed to a 39-run defeat in the opening one-day match in India.

Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen shared 60 but fell within two overs as England slumped from 117-3 to 164 all out.

"We have to regroup as batsmen and think about what has just happened, we should have knocked off 203," he said.

"It is a seven-match series so although we have under-achieved there are six to go and hopefully we can do better."

Flintoff was full of praise for his team's fielding display after England restricted India to 203 all out.

"I thought the bowlers were magnificent. I was pleased with the job they did - on a wicket like that 240 might have been a par score.

"We expected to chase down, the pitch didn't get any worse but our batters lacked a bit not to get the runs."

Flintoff and Pietersen rescued England after Andrew Strauss was dismissed in the first over and Owais Shah also fell to Irfan Pathan shortly afterwards.

"We didn't get off to the best of starts but that can happen with a swinging ball up front," Flintoff said.

Harbhajan Singh celebrates
Harbhajan celebrates the key wicket of England captain Flintoff

The captain admitted that he was as much to blame as anyone after following Pietersen back into the pavilion with 87 needed.

"Myself and Kevin had them by the proverbials," he lamented. "We should have gone on, we were in a great position and we should have knocked those runs off."

India captain Rahul Dravid felt the match had slipped away from his team when Flintoff was at the crease.

His counterpart hit four fours and two sixes and Dravid said: "I didn't think 203 was enough on that wicket.

"When Freddie and (Kevin) Pietersen were batting it didn't look like we had a chance but with a last throw of the dice we got a wicket and put pressure on."

Dravid praised Harbhajan Singh and said: "He has worked hard and his 37 runs were pretty crucial as well."

Spinner Harbhajan savoured his first five-wicket haul for four years that inspired India to victory.

"It's a really great feeling to be back and getting wickets," said the 25-year-old after a career-best 5-31.

"I've been bowling well and I was quite confident it would come at some stage and I'd get wickets.

"It was a typical wicket here, it tends to get slower second innings and keep low, but you still have to bowl well."

Ian Blackwell was the most miserly of the England bowlers, with figures of one for 24 from his 10 overs.

"I am obviously very pleased with the way that I bowled in their innings, but very disappointed with the way that we batted in reply, and also with the way that I batted myself," said Blackwell, who was out for 10.

"Chasing a total of just over 200 runs should not have been a problem for us."

Interview: England stand-in skipper Andrew Flintoff



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