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Freddie goes gaga over English talent

"Test win shows English cricket has good players who go out there and compete to win," said Flintoff.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2006 20:14 IST

Stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff led a makeshift England team to their first test win in India in 21 years on Wednesday and said the performance showed the country's depth of talent.

England, missing several regulars including skipper Michael Vaughan and his deputy Marcus Trescothick, won the final test by 212 runs on Wednesday to tie the three-match series.

"It just shows that English cricket has some good players coming through," Flintoff told reporters.

"To go against India and compete to win, everybody who has made their debut and the lads who have played only a handful of games have contributed in this test series.

"The character is fantastic and the lads in the dressing room can be very, very proud," added the 28-year-old, who was named man of the match and man of the series.

The odds appeared to be stacked against England at the start of the tour, aside from Vaughan and Trescothick they were also missing spinner Ashley Giles and fast bowler Simon Jones, who injured his knee before the first test.

Paceman Steve Harmison was ruled out of the final test with a bone stress injury in his shin.

But their replacements rose to the occasion.

Opener Alastair Cook scored a century on his debut in the drawn first test and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar bowled well taking five wickets in his maiden series.

In the final test, James Anderson took six wickets, Shaun Udal five and debutant Owais Shah made 88 and 32.

"Obviously last summer (Ashes victory) was huge. With the problems we had before the tour started and the lads who came in, we thought we played some good stuff out here," Flintoff said.

The all rounder, who scored four successive fifties in the last two tests, said the quick wickets of the Indian captain Rahul Dravid (nine) and Sachin Tendulkar (34) turned the match.

"Once we got those two wickets in two overs we felt we had a definite chance especially the way Udal was bowling," Flintoff said.

"He was spinning it and it was bouncing, he looked like taking a wicket every ball."

India had resumed on 18-1, chasing 313 and Flintoff said although he had scented victory he did not expect it to come so quickly as the hosts were bowled out for 100.

"India needed the best part of 300 on a wearing pitch that was spinning and bouncing. India certainly had a chance of winning it, but I sensed it was stacked in our favour."

"I thought we would be scrapping towards the end of the day trying to fight out a result."

Flintoff had a miserable run with the bat in the 2001-02 tour, tallying just 26 runs in three tests. This time he scored 264 runs at an average of 52.80.

"There was a question mark over my head whether I could play in the sub-continent and whether I can play spin.

"It is disappointing that I didn't score a hundred. I think I have improved as a batter. Probably the added responsibility helped me as well," he said.

First Published: Mar 22, 2006 19:52 IST