Confident England looking to finish off India in Nagpur
After back-to-back victories, England sit on the verge of history -- their first Test series triumph in India after nearly 27 years.
They scored two straight thumping victories, in Mumbai and Kolkata, to take a well-deserved 2-1 lead in the four-match series and go into the final Test in Nagpur, starting Thursday, favourites to make it 3-1.
Just a few weeks ago, the visitors were written off after being thrashed by nine wickets in the first Test in Ahmedabad and it seemed India would cruise to a 4-0 series whitewash.
But, then, England turned around things in style, led from the front by their captain Alastair Cook, who has scored three centuries in a row in the first three games for an amazing tally of 548 runs in six innings.
Monty Panesar, who was dropped for the first Test, made a magnificent comeback with 16 wickets in two matches, including 11 in the Mumbai Test.
Image: Graeme Swann
'We believe we can win it'
Graeme Swann is also a major contributor, with 17 wickets in the series so far. He revealed how England stayed positive despite the crushing defeat in the first Test, and self-belief helped the team bounce back.
"After losing the game in Ahmedabad, and also knowing our previous results in India which is not at all good, it is very easy to get into the rut of losing games, travelling around, losing another one and you can't wait to go home at the end of it rather than focusing on winning the next game.
"There was a lot of focus back then that this tour was not going to be like that whether it was the team management or the senior players talking to the room," he revealed, in Nagpur, on Tuesday.
The off-spinner said the visitors adopted an aggressive approach, adding that the team npw looks one of the most confident to have visited India.
"It was made very clear that Mumbai was the chance to level the series and anyone who didn't see it that way wasn't sort of welcome in the dressing room.
"It is probably bit different this time around, how we have approached the trip. We have really tried to embrace India and embrace the series. We believe we can win it and I am not sure that has always been the case; it may have been. I have only been on one Test tour before, but there certainly seems to be more belief in this group right from the outset," he said.
Image: Graeme Swann celebrates a dismissal
'We came out here to try and win the series'
Despite leading 2-1, Swann made it clear that England will not be playing for a draw in Nagpur and go all out for victory, as in the last two games.
"It is a lot more satisfying as a team to finish the job off. We came out here to try and win the series and that is what we are trying to do. You never want to draw a series, or you never want to lose series; you only come out with one aim in mind, and that is to win the series," said Swann.
The veteran spinner was guarded against taking the hosts lightly, as he believes M S Dhoni's men will come out all guns blazing to win the Test and preserve their good record at home.
"It is tough, but sometimes it is a good position to be in. If there is only one possible result you can get, then you can go all out fighting. It is not like that if it is the last Test of the series and the result hangs on it, then normally it is a very exciting one, because in the first Test it seems a long road ahead of you because people are naturally cautious and they don't want to lose the series in the first match and it all comes down to the last game.
"I am sure India will come out actually fighting, because they have to win the game. And, equally so, I am sure we will approach the game because attack is our best form of defence and that has been proven in the last game," he said.
Swann also said that despite him and Panesar taking 35 wickets between them, they cannot depend solely on spinners to win matches even if the wickets are rank turners.
Image: Monty Panesar gets a high-five from his teammates
'If you get 500 in a Test match, you are not losing'
"The last two matches that we have won, the spinners have taken wickets, but you also see the totals we have posted in those games. The crux of it is that if you get 500 in a Test match, you are not losing a Test match, but you are winning it from there. Me and Monty's record in the past has improved in the last two games together, but I maintain that we should have won 4 or 5 of the games we played in had we posted decent totals.
"What I said at the start of the tour is that if you expect just the spinners to win the game for you, you are screwed, and I stand by it completely because it is a team effort. Without the monumental performances from Cook, [Kevin] Pietersen and [Jonathan] Trott in the last game we would not have been 2-1 up," he said.
India's main problem is the poor form of some of their top batsmen in the series. On the other hand, England's top order batsmen have scored consistently in the last two matches, which Swann believes is the difference.
"We have got quite a few players in good form at the moment and they are cashing on it with the bat. If you score big runs in Test cricket you put yourself in with the chance of winning and that is what we have been doing in the last two matches," he said.
Image: Alastair Cook and Nick Compton during the third Test