Dravid wants to clinch series in 100th Test

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:India captain Rahul Dravid is keen to cap his 100th Test with a series-clinching victory in the third and final Test against England in Mumbai.

India, who drew the opening match at Nagpur, gained a 1-0 lead with an emphatic nine-wicket win in the second game at Mohali.

"Hopefully, I will be in the winning side here. It's a special feeling playing the 100th Test," the Indian skipper said ahead of the match starting on Saturday.

Dravid, 33, is set to become only the sixth Indian to complete a century of Tests after Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Anil Kumble.

"When I made my debut in 1996, I never thought I'd be playing for as long as I have. It's going to be a special occasion for me to join these cricketers, some of whom were my heroes when I was growing up," he said.

India expect their bowlers to deliver again, especially leg-spinner Kumble who became only the fifth cricketer in Test history to complete 500 wickets during his nine-wicket match haul at Mohali.

Kumble was brilliantly supported by seamer Munaf Patel, who finished with seven wickets in his debut Test.

Dravid warned his team should not lower their guard as England were capable of striking back despite losing key players Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones.

"I expect them (England) to come back hard at us. There is a lot of fight left in them and they are a very competitive unit," said Dravid.

India also got a boost ahead of the match from hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag's return to form with an unbeaten 76 in the second innings at Mohali after three successive failures.

But a long innings is overdue from champion batsman Tendulkar, who is set to become the most capped Indian player during his 132nd Test here.

Tendulkar has not scored a half-century since his world-record 35th Test hundred against Sri Lanka at Delhi last December.

Stand-in England captain Andrew Flintoff is looking forward to an improved performance from his batsmen to keep hopes alive of squaring the series.

He won a good toss in the previous Test, but his team failed to post a challenging first-innings total which is considered all-important on low, slow Indian pitches.

The tourists made 300 in the first innings and were skittled out for 181 in the second despite a brave half-century under pressure from Flintoff.

Flintoff was hopeful his team would not repeat the mistakes in Mumbai.

"We have a good young side and I think we are showing character. We are going to learn from the mistakes and improve our performance," he said.

England (from): Andrew Flintoff (capt), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones, Ian Blackwell, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar, James Anderson, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Shaun Udal.

India (from): Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Venkatsai Laxman, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla, Rudra Pratap Singh.

Umpires: Darrell Hair (AUS) and Simon Taufel (AUS)

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)

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