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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 12:11 GMT
Flintoff hails England after draw
Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff was delighted with his young side after their draw in Nagpur
England captain Andrew Flintoff paid tribute to his young side after they held off a late India charge to secure a deserved draw in the first Test.

The hosts gave up their chase as the light faded still 107 runs short of England's total and Flintoff said: "This is our youngest side in 40 years.

"The character, coolness and calmness shown by them all was superb.

"Even when India were throwing the bat around at the end we stuck to the basics, and we even might have won it."

A 167-run partnership between Wasim Jaffer (100) and Rahul Dravid (71) preceded a late burst from India, in which Irfan Pathan and Sachin Tendulkar both scored freely to put England under pressure.

But Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar shared five wickets to end India's slim hopes of victory as they ended on 260-6.

And Flintoff insisted England's encouraging performance boded well for the rest of the tour.

There's an excitement in our dressing room. We're a young side and we're up for playing against India
Andrew Flintoff

"Every single player in our dressing room can be proud of what we've done this week," said the Lancashire all-rounder.

"Now we've got to do it all again in the next Test in Mohali. But there's an excitement in our dressing room right now.

"We're a young side, playing good cricket, and we're up for playing against India."

However, he played down his chances of holding on to the England captaincy.

The 28-year-old's leadership came under severe scrutiny as India began their run-chase in earnest in the evening session, and his negative field placings possibly tainted an otherwise decent first Test as skipper.

And he conceded: "I'm the captain purely through circumstance, what with Michael (Vaughan) and Marcus (Trescothick) returning home.

"But it was good fun, being involved all the time and making decisions. And the team took ownership of it, they all took it on board.

"It wasn't going to be easy, but all of them fought for five days and, as captain, that's all you can ask."

Matthew Hoggard
Hoggard's immaculate line and length earned him the match award

Man of the match Matthew Hoggard echoed his skipper's sentiments, and challenged the side to take their form to Mohali.

The Yorkshire seamer ended with excellent match figures of 7-86 from 46.5 overs to pick up the player award, but he said: "Every bowler played their part, and we all did well as a pack.

"Monty Panesar in particular, especially on debut, came in and showed good character to bowl really well.

"And, at the end, even on an unresponsive wicket that didn't turn as much as we hoped it would, we came at them and put them under pressure.

"Who knows, had we had another 15 overs or so to bowl at them, we might have got a result.

"Now we'll have a break, rest up a bit, and then come out all guns blazing again in Mohali."

Interview: Stand-in skipper Andrew Flintoff

Interview: Man of the match Matthew Hoggard

Jonathan Agnew column
05 Mar 06 |  England
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13 Feb 06 |  Cricket
England in India 2006
08 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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