'Celebrations can wait; important we finish well'
Bikash Mohapatra reports from The Oval.
Three down, one to go! That is how England is looking at the fourth Test, at The Oval, starting Thursday.
The home team, having scored comprehensive victories at Lord's, Trent Bridge and Edgbaston, and usurped the No.1 Test ranking from the visitors, are looking to finish the series on a strong note. And, needless to say, they are leaving no stone unturned to achieve that end.
"Having achieved the No.1 ranking is a nice feeling, but it is something that we are focusing on. It has not been the talk in the changing room. It is important that we finish well," explained Graeme Swann.
The spinner proceeded to elaborate his point, citing a recent example.
"We want to do justice to ourselves in the last game. We did that very well in the winter, in the Ashes," he continued.
"After we had regained the Ashes in Melbourne, we went on to give our best performance in the last Test at Sydney. That is something we want to emulate here," he added.
Image: Graeme Swann
Photographs: Getty Images
'The Oval is going to be a good batting wicket'
The 32-year-old said in order to ensure a positive result at The Oval, England has to continue doing what they did so well thus far.
"I think the best thing we have done in the series so far is to keep India down below 300 every time we have bowled," he explained.
"Going into the series not many people gave us a chance to do it. I think that is why we should try and do it again."
Swann was quick to point out that The Oval wicket may not be conducive for the same.
"We know The Oval is going to be a good batting wicket. It always is. So we have our work cut out. Besides, they [India] will turn out on Thursday and want to beat us.
"We have to play exceptionally well to match them or even better them. If we can maintain the standards we have set so far, I am sure we can do it."
Image: Swann celebrates running out Sachin Tendulkar during Day 4 of the third Test
'Any plaudits can be saved till we get ourselves some break in November'
The fact that it will be the last home Test for England for some time to come, also serves as an inspiration for the team, feels Swann.
"It is the last Test match for a while, till January, and it would be nice to sign off on a winning note," he said, adding, "We have had some exceptional cricket in the last 18 to 24 months and it would be a shame to ruin it. So we look to make it a good five days."
Should England win at The Oval too, it will be their first whitewash over India since 1974 (when they won 3-0). Besides, it would be the perfect way to celebrate their ascent to the top of the world Test rankings.
"We always celebrate wins of this magnitude very heavily. I think it is good for team bonding.
"But we are not thinking this series is over. Any plaudits can be saved till we get ourselves some break in November," he concluded.
Image: Graeme Swann