England 238 & 10-1 President's XI 342-8 dec: Vaughan remains optimistic as bowlers find range

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Above the pavilion at the IPCL Ground are emblazoned in sober script some platitudes of the type which have kept self-help manuals in business. Since they are purported to have come from the lips of the late and extremely rich Indian business mogul, Dhirubhai H Ambani, they are presumed to carry more weight.

It is possible that England, in the wars as they are, may be uplifted by a spot of mumbo-jumbo in their preparations for the first Test. Maybe Michael Vaughan, their injured captain, looked up and found his knee reinvigorated and his soul refreshed by the saying: "Don't give up, courage is my conviction." Or it could have been: "If you work with determination and with perfection success will follow."

If they worked for DHA on his way to building one of the great industrial empires, who is to argue? On the other hand, Vaughan probably took himself off to the nets for a bat yesterday propelled by Yorkshire stubbornness and the fact that back home they were arranging the last rites for his career.

He fairly scoffed at the suggestions being made, and for 40 minutes or so against some fairly innocuous slow bowling he looked characteristically elegant and composed. He shimmied down the track with rare abandon, and though he did not play many back-foot shots to transfer weight to his dodgy right knee it went without another hitch.

Nevertheless, Vaughan hedged his bets in the brief statement put out by the team media relations manager. "I had a light net today to test out the knee and it is still to early whether the injection has had an effect. We will just have to wait and see how it responds in the next 48 hours."

Not precisely a declamation that he will fight India on the beaches as well as near the orange groves in Nagpur, venue for the first Test next Wednesday. But it was the sensible option. The worst option would have been for the England captain to talk up his chances of the knee recovering and then be forced to withdraw.

The injection of cortisone, administered on Wednesday a mere 11 weeks after surgery on the offending joint, may take 48 hours, or up to two weeks to work. It may never work. But at the least it seems that Vaughan and his medical advisers were pushing it in terms of the recovery time allowed for the operation. Nothing that has happened so far has blown away the clouds of doubt and concern and will not until he has played, say, another 20 consecutive Test matches without having to pull out because of his knee.

The captain's movements diverted attention from his charges who were suffering from various ailments. Although most of them - Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Simon Jones, Shaun Udal and Liam Plunkett, who joined him with a sore left heel yesterday - were reported to be on the mend. Two England A tourists were placed on standby as replacements. The batsman Alastair Cook and fast bowler Jimmy Anderson were en route to London from Antigua.

Out in the middle, the bowlers certainly recovered some ground for the tourists after the batsmen had flopped in succumbing for 238 on the opening day. The Board XI clearly had a good enough batting order to overtake that meagre offering and did so.

The chief contributor to their 342 for 8 declared was Gautam Gambhir, the opening batsman who has not been recalled by the Indian Test selectors. That honour has fallen to his partner in this match, Wasim Jaffer, who made 48 the previous night and learnt that he was back in the Test team after four years.

He has been preferred - as have several youngsters - to the former captain, Sourav Ganguly, who is dropped almost certainly never to return. India are looking ahead. Ganguly, who has played 88 Tests, 49 of them as captain, put the haut into haughty and was so beautifully aloof from the common herd that he must have thought this would never happen to him. But he was also a tough, shrewd captain who changed the way India approached their cricket which the new brigade would do well to remember.

The Board XI did not have it all their own way. Ambani would have approved of the manner in which the England bowlers went about their work for most of the day, though not all the fielding was top drawer. The wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, wronged by having so many byes given against his name when the balls were clearly wides, was most culpable, missing a stumping and a catch.

But Matthew Hoggard bowled two incisive spells with the ball swinging at the start and end of the day and both Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison looked as though they meant business with the second new ball. Both finished with three wickets.

Monty Panesar and Ian Blackwell, had one apiece, with Panesar being given every opportunity to stake his claim and removing one of the new Indian wonderboys, Suresh Raina.

Approaching a Test series it is crucial to improve form and intensity step by step so that you reach the apex of achievement on the day. If Ambani did not say that he should have.

* After days of confusing public statements, Sky yesterday announced that they had won the rights to televise England's Test and one-day series in India and all India's international cricket for the next four years. Their commentators - David Gower, Ian Botham, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain - were last night preparing to fly out.

* A century partnership between Vikram Solanki and Chris Read rescued England A from a precarious position on day one of the opening Test against West Indies A in Antigua yesterday. The tourists were struggling at 127 for 5 but the stand swung the momentum in their favour as they reached 304 for 8 by stumps. The wicketkeeper Read blasted 78 off 109 balls, including 12 fours and a six, while Solanki struck 86.

* Graeme Smith hit 89 not out as South Africa beat Australia by two runs in a Twenty20 international in Johannesburg last night. Smith helped the hosts to 201 for 4 and they restricted Australia to 199 for 7.

Baroda scoreboard

England won toss; second day of three

ENGLAND - First Innings 238 (M M Patel 5-59).

PRESIDENT'S XI - First Innings

(Overnight: 93 for 1)

G Gambhir c Strauss b Flintoff 108

D S Jadhav c G O Jones b Harmison 20

S K Raina c Blackwell b Panesar 62

*Y V Rao c Flintoff b Harmison 25

S Badrinath b Flintoff 0

K K D Karthik c Trescothick b Harmison 19

ÝR R Powar not out 23

V R Singh b Flintoff 13

Extras (b20 lb4) 24

Total (for 8 dec, 103.4 overs) 342

Fall: 1-93 2-157 3-242 4-274 5-279 6-306 7-313 8-342.

Did not bat: S S Paul, M M Patel.

Bowling: Hoggard 22-8-57-0; Harmison 22-5-72-3; Flintoff 21.4-2-74-3; Plunkett 2-0-8-0; Panesar 19-5-46-1; Blackwell 17-1-61-1.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

*M E Trescothick not out 4

A J Strauss c Raina b Patel 2

M J Hoggard not out 4

Total (for 1, 8 overs) 10

Fall: 1-3.

To bat: I R Bell, K P Pietersen, A Flintoff, ÝG O Jones, I D Blackwell, L E Plunkett, S J Harmison, M S Panesar.

Bowling: Patel 4-3-4-1; Singh 2-0-3-0; Powar 2-0-3-0.

Umpires: A V Jayaprakash and A M Saheba.

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