Dravid, Jaffer defy England bowlers, first Test ends in a draw
Nagpur, Mar 5 (UNI) Comeback man Wasim Jaffer slammed a brilliant maiden Test ton (100) and put on a 167-run second wicket partnership with captain Rahul Dravid (71) to deny England any hopes of forcing a win as the first Test ended in a draw on the fifth and final day at the VCA ground here today.
Set a target of 368 for an unlikely win on a crumbling final day wicket from a minimum of 90 overs, India did make an audacious late charge with Irfan Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashing the England bowlers to all parts of the ground, but then they had left their charge a little too late and finally the two teams had to be content with a draw.
When play was called off eleven overs before the scheduled close, India had reached 260 for six, still needing a further 108 runs for a victory. At the end, Sachin Tendulkar was unbeaten on 28.
Even though India fought back and forced a draw in this Test, the moral victors were England, who even after losing their regular captain Michael Vaughan and strike bowler Simon Jones due to injury and vice captain Marcus Trescothick due to ''personal'' reasons, showed character and the will to fight it out and dominated the match.
The visitors responded to the call of stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff and fought hard to outplay Indians before the Jaffer-Dravid combination saved face for the hosts on the last day.
India began disastrously as first innings hero Matthew Hoggard once again bowled brilliantly pitching the ball up and not giving anything to the batsmen. He had India's swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag back in the pavillion for nought bowling through the gate as Sehwag went for an expansive off-drive.
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