Paul Collingwood's England side lost a thrilling, high-scoring one-day encounter to India at The Oval last night but he had every justification in saying his team could "keep their heads held high" ahead of Saturday's series decider at Lord's.
India's two-wicket win, secured in the final over as the tourists scraped past 316, leaves the series at 3-3 with one to play and Collingwood said the hosts were not despondent.
"There was a lot of commitment, desire – all the words you put into a good team," he said. "I can't fault their effort. It was a shame but congratulations to India, they played a great game. But the way we fought back was great. Credit to all the boys; they can keep their heads held high."
Collingwood praised the contribution of debutant Luke Wright, who made 50, and centurion Owais Shah. "We didn't get off to a great start but for Luke to change the momentum of the game and for Owais to get his first hundred was great."
India's captain Rahul Dravid insisted his side were confident of chasing down their target, even though it would once have been deemed impossible. "When we started playing [one-day cricket] if a team got 300 you thought 'What's the point going out to bat?' But it's changed. We knew there was a genuine belief we could get this score."
England's Dimitri Mascarenhas earlier hit Yuvraj Singh for five successive sixes and Dravid said his plan for "death bowling" had not come off.
"When he gets hit for 30 in the last over you wonder a bit," he said with some understatement.
"I've never seen hitting quite as big as that. If Piyush [Chawla] had caught the first one [he carried the ball over the boundary], it would have been different.
"After that one I said to Yuvraj 'don't worry – he'll edge the next one'. Then I said it after the second one – but after the third one I gave up."
Mascarenhas received high praise from his captain. "It was a top effort by Dimi – great striking of the ball," said Collingwood. " The only thing I can remember close to that was South Africa against Australia when both sides scored 400."
Mascarenhas said: "It's what I have been doing for Hampshire for the last four or five years more consistently. After the second one I thought 'I am seeing it pretty well here, I am just swinging hard'. They just hit the middle of the bat – and he [Yuvraj] probably bowled them in the right areas for me. If you ask him, I guess he'd think he just got it a little bit wrong. "
But it was Dravid who left the Oval as the most satisfied man. "We got a bit of the rub of the green," he said, "but we have shown a lot of resilience after a long tour."Reuse content