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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Vaughan back where he belongs
By Paresh Soni
BBC Sport, Trent Bridge

The phrase "captain's innings" has somehow always appeared to question the commitment of other batsmen in the team.

The implication is that the skipper bats with more care for his side or the situation.

Whether Michael Vaughan's magnificent century here on day four against India should be regarded in that way or not, it certainly confirmed his rehabilitation as a world-class batsman.

Michael Vaughan
It was always going to take a real jaffa or bad luck to get him out

Paul Collingwood on Michael Vaughan

This was a man who led England to Ashes ecstasy in 2005.

But less than two years later, he was a helpless witness to abject misery when Australia triumphed 5-0.

Vaughan faced serious doubts about his long-term future as a player of any description, let alone at the highest level, after a fourth knee operation took him out of the international scene in 2006.

When he walked to the crease at 49-1 in the morning, he faced another moment of scrutinisation.

But then fighting for Yorkshire after being born on the other side of the Pennines has prepared the 32-year-old for such battles.

With his team 244 away from even achieving parity, any decent score in this situation was worth at least twice if not more than the hundred he made against the hapless West Indies at his beloved Headingley earlier this summer.

There were a few uncertain moments early on, particularly against Zaheer Khan, India's left-arm seamer who has been inspired in this series.

But impeccable judgement outside off-stump and a slice or two of luck saw him through those tentative beginnings.

Then he delivered a master-class of combining defence with attack.

Before long we were witnessing the reincarnation of a man who made three centuries against the Indians in 2002 and three more in the Ashes that winter.

The nimbleness with which he moved his feet, the ease with which he drove either side of the wicket and down the ground, were signs the patient was well and truly healed.

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greyblazer

And the disdain with which he treated leg-spinner Anil Kumble evoked those heady days when he was ranked the best batsman in the world.

Paul Collingwood, who put on 112 with him to give England fans so much hope, said: "I can assure you it wasn't too easy out there.

"Michael was under control, he was positive and could easily have gone on to get a real big one but a bit of bad luck stopped that.

"He was lining the ball up superbly well, the Indian bowlers were swinging the ball both ways but he was in the zone and playing beautifully.

"It was always going to take a real jaffa or bad luck to get him out.

"The wicket wasn't flat, it was still zipping around a little bit and the left-armers were getting plenty of swing both ways.

"It was a magnificent innings - simple as that."

Vaughan's innings wasn't all about the beauty and elegance of his strokeplay, of which there was plenty to behold.

It was also about backbone, fury and fight, which spilled over when he took great umbrage to a beamer from the wild Sree Santh to Kevin Pietersen.

It ended in unfortunate circumstances, bowled by the unrelenting Zaheer off his thigh pad just when he was ready to take the initiative away from India.

His dismissal sparked a collapse which will lead to defeat for England on Tuesday.

But there was no sense of surrender about the manner in which he played here.

SEE ALSO
Vaughan on top of the world
14 Apr 03 |  Cricket
India in England 2007
08 Jan 07 |  Cricket


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