India to pile pressure on tottering England

Published: Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kochi:Indian captain Rahul Dravid has urged his team to seal the One-day series against England by winning the fourth match here.

"We have done well so far. We do understand it is an important game. If we play some good cricket we can win the series," Dravid said on Wednesday ahead of the key match at the 90,000-capacity Nehru stadium.

"I do not think we will deviate too much from our plans for this game. We will try and play the cricket which we played for the last three games."

England, who lost the first three matches, must win on Thursday to remain afloat in the seven-match series.

In the last game played on Monday in the western tourist resort of Goa under hot and humid conditions, England lost by 49 runs.

There will be no reprieve for the tourists in Kochi where it is hotter and more humid than in Goa.

"It is quite hot," said Dravid. "It gets quite hot and humid here. You need a lot of mental strength and ability to cope with the heat. We showed that in Goa."

India suffered a scare Wednesday when all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who cracked a match-winning century in Goa, had to undergo a scan after he complained of pain in the lower neck. He was later declared fit.

The Indian captain's immediate worry is the poor form of star opener Virender Sehwag. "For us it is critical to try and get him back into form and we will do whatever it takes to get him back to form," said Dravid.

England's wicket-keeper Geraint Jones defended his skipper Andrew Flintoff who has faced calls from the British media to skip the rest of the series.

"It is tough because he does so much anyway," said Jones. "Fred is fully capable of this. I think he is thriving on it anyway.

"Freddie does boost spirits. It is not something he has made an extra effort to do. The spirit of the boys is pretty good."

England are depleted by the absence of top players like regular captain Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Steve Harmison due to injury and Marcus Trescothick for personal reasons.

"It has been a long tough tour and we had new guys coming into the One-day squad. But the fact is we have not performed the way we should have," said Jones.

"We have lost a lot of players and that made it difficult. The team that I have been used to is a settled side," he said.

Jones said England was going through a very tough phase but the players were geared for the challenge ahead.

"It has just been a difficult period where we have not had the success we wanted. The passion for One-day cricket is there. The success we have not had," he said.

England have another reason to match India in the remaining four games. They have been drawn in the same group as Australia and India in the Champions Trophy One-day tournament to be held in India in October.

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