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  Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 15:01 GMT
Strength in depth
Ashley Giles: Man of the match in Delhi
Ashley Giles: Man of the match in Delhi
BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos says England's one-day squad is better equipped than some might think.

If the true sign of a strong team is the strength of its substitutes, then England are better equipped then most have given them credit for.

Without the fine work of Ashley Giles, Nick Knight and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Caddick, England would once again have been made to suffer in India - this time it would have been not so much Delhi belly as belly-up in Delhi.

But it was more luck than good judgement that saw the return of Ashley Giles to play his second one-day international of the year - one more than he managed last year because of an ongoing Achilles tendon problem.

After sharing the duties with Jeremy Snape in the opening one-day match in Calcutta, Giles found himself second favourite to his spin rival before Snape split the webbing of a hand in training in Delhi.

Nick Knight: A fourth one-day ton for England
Nick Knight: A fourth one-day ton for England

And Nick Knight could easily have been dropped in Kanpur in an attempt to bring Graham Thorpe into the side, with either Michael Vaughan or Nasser Hussain opening the batting.

A remarkable run in Zimbabwe - 302 runs in five innings, only three of them completed - had been almost entirely wiped out by 24 runs in the first three one-day internationals against India.

In the event, a stomach upset to James Foster meant that Marcus Trescothick was given the gloves, allowing Thorpe back into the side alongside Knight.

Bang on cue, Knight responded by scoring 74 from 82 balls in Kanpur, followed in Delhi by one-day international hundred number four.

Variety of Snape

Where the Warwickshire left-hander would have had every reason to feel aggrieved had he been omitted, Giles could have had no such complaint.

Snape had brought much-needed variation to England's one-day cause by posing India's batsmen questions they had previously not encountered: how to combat the combination of soft ball midway through the innings and deathly slow bowler.

But for all his one-day canniness, it is hard to see Snape in the role of match-winner. Giles, on the other hand, has on his day proved that he can be crucial to the outcome of both Tests and one-dayers.

It takes nerves to come back from being clobbered for three pre-meditated sixes over wide midwicket to outwit the batsman, as he did to Sourav Ganguly.

Ganguly's was the first of five wickets for the left-arm spinnnr in a six-over spell that turned the course of match England's way.

The case of Caddick is, as always with the Somerset bowler, a little trickier.

Giles's second spell was inspired stuff
Giles's second spell was inspired stuff

Darren Gough combined maturity and skill in restricting Ajit Agarkar and Sarandeep Singh to six runs off a final over from which nine were needed for victory.

And Matthew Hoggard, the bowler to miss out in Delhi, clearly deserved his run in the first four matches after being asked to shoulder the burden of being the only clear England strike bowler during the Test series.

Hussain has said in the past that Caddick is often his biggest one-day conundrum.

But by bowling back-of-a-length, Caddick concedes fewer runs per over than his contemporaries (3.78 compared to Gough's 4.25 and Hoggard's 4.58), every bit as vital a commodity as wicket-taking.

For all that, however, he has played just 36 one-day internationals to Gough's 100.

The lessons of Delhi, where Caddick's 1-39 from 10 overs were far and away England's most economical figures, will only add to Hussain's quandary.

At least this time Hussain will be scratching his head for all the right reasons.

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