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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 12:38 GMT
Jonathan Agnew column
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Nagpur

Although India thoroughly deserved their draw, England's spirited performance will have given the tourists enormous confidence for the rest of the series.

Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison had to share the burden of stemming India's glut of runs late on
Flintoff and Harmison were worked hard by the Indians on day five

India's speculative assault on their target, which was designed to tire out England's seamers more than anything else, was an admirable tactic.

Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, who bowled more than they wanted as a result, will carry tired legs with them to Mohali.

But England's chaotic build-up and a bitterly disappointing first day were shrugged off in the manner of a team that has become accustomed to hard work and success.

India, who were expected to dominate the match, failed to take control despite having England on the ropes in their first innings and then, when perfectly set to build a commanding lead on the third morning, they lost eight for 186 in the day.

I would be failing in my duty in impartiality if I failed to suggest that England had the rub of the green in Nagpur.

The home team badly needs an improved performance on Thursday

It is often the case that umpiring decisions tend to favour one team and, although Andrew Flintoff was unlucky to be given out lbw in the first innings, the balance more than swung England's way thereafter.

The decision by the third umpire to give Kevin Pietersen not out for a caught and bowled appeal was dreadful.

India's fielding fell apart - they dropped several catches in England's second innings - but the real match-winning opportunities were missed by England.

Geraint Jones was the culprit on both occasions.

Had he caught Anil Kumble in India's first innings, the partnership of 128 with Mohammad Kaif would have been nipped in the bud, and England's lead might have been as much as 150.

Geraint Jones drops Rahul Dravid after an edge off Ian Blackwell's bowling
The much-maligned Jones had another difficult game

The chance was low to Jones' right, but an international wicket-keeper really should have taken it.

Then, with India fighting to save the game, Jones dropped Rahul Dravid on 17 as he stood up to the stumps off Ian Blackwell.

While accepting that any catch off a spinner is difficult, and requires a certain amount of luck, it was a chance that needed to be taken, but wasn't.

One regular observer, a statistician, now logs Jones' missed chances as 13 dropped catches, four missed stumpings and a run out from his 24 Tests.

Some of those will have been harder than others, but having kept wicket tidily in Pakistan on flat pitches, there was always a chance that he would be exposed here with the ball spinning sharply.

India's aggressive batting made for an exciting final afternoon - but while the tourists reflect on their missed opportunities, the home team badly needs an improved performance in Mohali.




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