The first Test match in Nagpur provided a thrilling draw thanks to a late charge masterminded by Indian captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell.

The match had a bit of everything, especially for the youngest side England has fielded for more than 40 years - everybody has still to celebrate their 30th birthday - and all this despite one of umpire Aleem Dar's most indifferent Tests and an astonishing mis-use of technology by third umpire Ivaturi Sivarim.

Andrew Flintoff had a good first match as captain. Nitpickers might argue about his reaction to the unexpected late flurry by the Indian batsmen after tea yesterday when they had a thrilling dart at 203 from 22 overs.

With left-handers Wasim Jaffer (a fine maiden Test hundred in his first match for three years) and the promoted Irfan Pathan, he withdrew his spinners and brought on pace at both ends.

Pace on the ball was everything on the moribund pitch and the new captain could have made the batsmen put it on themselves. Instead, Pathan kick-started a fun-filled hour with 35 off 25 balls but Flintoff's ace in the hole was that he could bowl who he wanted when he wanted, with nine men on the boundary if he wanted, and his bowlers able to bowl bouncers and also not be called for wides as strictly as in one-day cricket.

In the first four-and-a-half days, Flintoff showed he has a thoughtful cricketing brain; also, he bowled himself at the right times and was quick to encourage his youngsters when the heat and some occasional sloppy cricket would have driven a captain such as Nasser Hussain to visible distraction.

Michael Vaughan deserves credit for that because of his apparent calm approach whatever the state of the game; i.e., on that nerve-shredding Sunday morning at Edgbaston in the second Ashes Test.

Vaughan's future is months rather than weeks away because the plan is that, after rest and rehabilitation, he plays for Yorkshire to re-establish match fitness before he plays any internatiional cricket.

England and Flintoff deserved every bit of luck that came their way, from winning the toss to the four first-innings lbws given by Aleem Dar.

If the argument that rough decisions follow a swings-and-roundabouts pattern then the tourists can expect a few equalisers in the second and third Tests at Mohali and Mumbai.

Dravid was palpably unlucky in the first innings and two of the next three got faint inside edges. Ironically, the only player to get close to the border of visual dissent was Sachin Tendulkar.

He was out but on another day none of the four would be given. Dar is a puzzle. He is calm and a good controller of a match but the mathematics of the lbw law desert him occasionally.

His poorest decision was not one of the above four, even though three got in a big forward stride, but it came on Saturday evening when Anil Kumble's third unfair dollop of the smelly stuff arrived from Lady Luck.

The wrist-spinner nailed Paul Collingwood, then runless, with the perfect leg-break. It pitched on the stumps, diddled the batsman into staying back as the ball straightened from leg to off and hit the pad below the knee-roll.

The ball only only four feet to travel and it was a stone cold decision. Except that Dar shook his head, and that after deciding in India's first innings that a front-foot stride of at least three feet (meaning the ball had seven feet to travel to the stumps) did not raise even a scintilla of doubt in his mind.

He was also party to the disgraceful decision involving Kevin Pietersen, who clearly scooped a mis-hit return catch to Kumble.

The Indians celebrated until they realised the batsman was standing his ground. An appeal was followed by a weak-kneed conference by the two umpires who, as Michael Atherton said yesterday, were encouraged "to duck out from making obvious decisions".

Dar was at square leg and thus had the perfect view and should have helped out partner Ian Howell. But he agreed to refer to the third umpire. What then happened gave heavy ammunition to those who believe that only line decisions should be referred until technology is much more reliable.

The incident was replayed more than a dozen times from all angles, with play halted for more than three minutes. It should have mattered not, because only one camera shot was inconclusive, while all others showed the ball hitting ground and thence upwards on to the bottom of the bat.

The most revelatory shot showed a puff of dust as the ball pitched, yet still human error made a mockery of technology.

A former Test captain is convinced that "he's just pressed the wrong button by mistake. There's no other explanation".

Let the guilty Pietersen have the last word, as he acknowledged that "having seen it replayed several times, I admit I was lucky to be able to reach 87."

Atherton's other bull point is that the referral system "encourages batsmen to stand for catches that they know are out. And when the camera work is not perfect or the angle of the replay clouds rather than enlightens the issue, it is always the batsman who benefits".

Pietersen did not claim that he was unsure, thereby tacitly admitting that, as with football divers, his action was an attempt to mislead the official in charge. Not outside the letter of the law but not within the spirit of all sport.

A draw was a fair result and, as both sides travel north to Mohali today to prepare for Thursday's second Test, they will reflect that the shrewd Chappell reclaimed some of the pyschological high ground lost in the first four days.

That 100-1 run-chase might have failed but it sent a clear message to the England youngsters.