England left in the dark

By Rob Lancaster  

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First npower Test Match
Lord's, day five
England 298 (A J Strauss 96, M P Vaughan 79) & 282 (K P Pietersen 134, R P Singh 5-59, Z Khan 4-79) v India 201 (W Jaffer 58, J M Anderson 5-42, R J Sidebottom 4-65) & 282-9 (M S Dhoni 76 no, K D Karthik 60)
England drew with India

A combination of bad light, steady rain and Mahendra Singh Donhi denied England at Lord's, as India escaped with a draw in the first npower Test.

Michael Vaughan's side were just one wicket away from going 1-0 up in the three-match series when umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Bucknor offered the light at 3.30pm.

The last-wicket pairing of Dhoni, who batted defiantly to make 76 not out, and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth were happy to head to the pavilion where they would stay until play was finally called off at 6.20pm.

While India will be relieved that the weather saved them, England will be cursing their luck after only managing to get through 55 of the scheduled 98 overs.

The contest had been set for a thrilling finish as India, needing a further 243 runs, started the day with seven wickets left in their second innings.

Although all three results were possible an England win seemed the most likely outcome and their chances were greatly improved when the two batsmen not out overnight, Sourav Ganguly and Dinesh Karthik, both perished in the opening hour.

Former captain Ganguly was the first to go, Ryan Sidebottom trapping the left-hander leg before for 42.

Just three overs later and Karthik was on his way as James Anderson tempted him to play a square drive that only ended up being comfortably caught by Paul Collingwood at second slip.

At 145-5 India were in danger of not even getting through the opening session, but a solid sixth-wicket stand of 86 gave them renewed hope of surviving until the rain finally arrived.

VVS Laxman and Dhoni combined to frustrate the home attack, surviving the odd scare along the way to see their side through to lunch without further loss.

Indeed, the game appeared to be back in the balance as they reached 231 before Chris Tremlett got England a vital breakthrough that exposed the lower order.

The Hampshire seamer benefited from a bit of an uneven bounce to bowl Laxman for 39 - leaving Dhoni and the tail to try and save the game.

Anil Kumble lasted 19 balls before going lbw to Sidebottom with the second new ball, while Zaheer Khan became Tremlett's third victim of the innings when he was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

All the while Dhoni stood firm, playing in an attacking fashion despite his team's situation to reach his fifth - and surely most important - Test half-century.

As if trying to remove the tail wasn't hard enough England were also competing with the conditions, and rapidly fading light forced them to turn to spin at both ends with skipper Vaughan coming into the attack.

At the opposite end Monty Panesar did manage to clean up RP Singh, but there was not enough time to get one more wicket as the weather had the last word from tea onwards.

The draw, England's second at Lord's this summer, leaves the series evenly balanced heading into the second Test at Trent Bridge, which starts on Friday.

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