Injured, defeated but England still formidable

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:England might be grappling to put together a fit squad against Rahul Dravid's men in the first Test starting March 1 but for Team India coach Greg Chappell, Michael Vaughan's side remains formidable, which will be all fired up once the series gets underway.

''I don't read too much into what has happened on the tour so far because, at this stage, it's just about getting a feel for the conditions,'' he told 'The Independent'.

''As far as they are concerned, the big games are yet to come.

Their performance against the Australians was notable for the mental aspect as much as the physical aspect,'' he added.

England, plagued by injuries to several key players, including captain Michael Vaughan, have been forced to call reserves to cover up for the growing list of doubtfuls and also lost their practice game against Board XI yesterday. But Chappell believes, despite the odds, England will still be a tough nut to crack.

''We know we're going to be up against formidable opponents.'' ''Their bowling attack is one of the best in the world and the team with the best bowling attack usually wins Tests. It is an area we have given quite a bit of thought to,'' he said.

Moving away from the on-field action to some off-field heat which the Aussie has been generating since he took over. Chappell was his diplomatic self when asked about Sourav Ganguly's exclusion from the team and his relationship with the former captain, who many believe was ousted at his behest.

''There is no fire and I can't even see any smoke,'' he said.

''The whole thing probably had much more significance in the media than the team. The selectors made a decision to look to the future and that is very much where I am focused.'' The controversy has failed to affect the former Aussie captain who said his commitment to the job has increased with each passing since taking over from Kiwi John Wright.

''I have an unflinching commitment to the job,'' but ''It is difficult to get yourself up all the time,'' Chappell said.

''Teams and individuals do go through that lull. We have got to be aware of that, but it should be that the infusion of new blood will help us in that regard.'' However, commitment remains the key word for him till the time he is with Team India and he believes it is the single most important factor for a team to succeed at the international level.

''I am more committed today than I was the day I started because I have seen what can be done. I have seen what can be achieved if we get the right people with the right commitment together,'' Chappell asserted.

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