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Hang around there, Boycott advises England

Published: Friday, March 17, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:With Andrew Flintoff's men desperately seeking a series equaliser in the Mumbai Test, they would do well to take a leaf out of host captain Rahul Dravid's book and stay put in the wicket to foil an in-form Anil Kumble, said former England captain Geoff Boycott.

''India's captain is called The Wall for a reason - it is like bowling at one. The current (English) line-up makes too many mistakes. England's batsmen have to learn how to deal with Anil Kumble,'' Boycott wrote in his column for BBC Sport.

The former captain said in the absence of Steve Harmison, who was ruled out with a shin injury yesterday, England will make a big mistake if they rely too much on their seam attack and batting well was the only way to turn things around in Mumbai tomorrow.

''Twice so far, England have won the toss, had opportunities to dictate the course of the match and failed to do so. That must change in Mumbai, where the third Test starts tomorrow. They (batsmen) should take a leaf from Rahul Dravid's book and make people bowl them out,'' he said.

Boycott was all praise for India's most successful bowler Kumble and said despite many shortcomings the veteran was quite a handful in home conditions.

''Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan spin the ball huge amounts and have more than 600 wickets each but they have not had anything like the same success in Indian conditions.''

''Kumble is not a normal leg-spinner who tosses it up, gets loop and spins it. He bowls very quickly, pretty flat and gets very little turn unless the pitch is receptive,'' he pointed out.

The former captain said only Flintoff has managed to decipher Kumble's bowling and other English batsmen need to follow their captain if they wish to succeed in India.

''The English batsman who has played him best is Andrew Flintoff.

In the second innings in Mohali he was positive, took a big stride forward and played at the ball,'' he said.

''Too many of the side play with the pad instead,'' he added.

Advising the England batsmen to stay at the wicket and be patient while playing the leggie, Boycott said Kumble had great variation to keep them on their toes.

''If you spend time at the crease and really watch his hand you will start to read his deliveries. Only then will you be able to score off him,'' he said.

Apart from Kumble, Boycott believes India can now boast of a good fast bowler as well in the form of Munaf Patel.

''India have now found a quick bowler in Munaf Patel who looks very good, is tall and strong and gets swing with the new and old ball,'' Boycott said.

Boycott said with the odds heavily stacked in favour of India, the tourists will have to come up with a really special performance to square off the series and until the batting clicks as a whole that looks highly unlikely.

''Flintoff must hope for a helpful wicket in Mumbai. But the odds have got to be on India preparing another wicket to suit Kumble after his success in Mohali. If that happens, England's chances do not look good.'' ''Unless they make major changes to their approach, the batting will just not be up to the task,'' he said.

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