India well-prepared for 'significant' Test
If there's one word that describes the England-India series, starting Thursday, it is 'significant'.
Be it terms of statistics -- it is the 100th Test between the two nations and also the 2000th Test overall -- or relevance, India's No.1 ranking is on the line.
Even from the historical perspective it is significant, considering the first ever Test was played at this venue, as also the first ever Test between the two nations involved.
No wonder Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni relished the significance of the occasion on the eve of the opening Test.
"You can look at the number and feel good about it," he quipped.
"It suggests the game has survived for a long time," he added.
Image: M S Dhoni
'We will stick to the cricket we know'
Dhoni, on his first English tour as captain, was quick to deny his team is under any pressure considering the significance of the occasion.
"For us every series we play, be it against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or England, is important," he justified.
"I rank every one of them as tough, as we have to keep proving ourselves as a team."
Dhoni insisted that the team will go into the match just as they had in recent times.
"I think we will stick to the cricket we know," he said, adding, "we will keep to our strengths.
"In the absence of Viru (Virender Sehwag), Gautam (Gambhir) and Abhinav (Mukund) will open the batting and they will be playing their normal game, without any pressure of being aggressive."
Though he spoke about the opening pair, the captain avoided naming his playing eleven.
"We usually keep the final eleven a secret," he smiled back, when the question cropped up.
"That is what we have been doing for some time now, so you will have to wait for that.
"As far as we are concerned, we are quite settled on that," he added.
Image: Abhinav Mukund
'England have improved a lot as a team from 2007'
He was forthcoming though on the bowling combination.
While Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma are certainties, with Harbhajan Singh predictably being the lone spinning option, it will be a toss up between Praveen Kumar and S Sreesanth for the third seamer's slot.
The team hasn't had much time to recover for the tour, having landed straight from the Caribbean and played only a solitary practice game. But Dhoni appeared confident, nonetheless.
"We have tried to use the time available in the best possible manner," he said, adding, "England have improved a lot as a team from 2007 (when India won 1-0).
"But we are well-prepared as well!"
Image: Zaheer Khan