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Time for Indians to show some fight

08-18-2011 13:54 BJT

Having secured top spot in the ICC's rankings of Test-playing nations, England's cricketers must now live up to that billing. The first step in maintaining that position will come at the Oval as the south London venue hosts the final Test of the summer.

Even the best teams have a tendency to subconsciously take their foot off the gas in dead-rubber games. However, the ultra-pragmatic partnership of team director Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss will try to ensure English feet remain firmly on the ground.

England's XI is likely to be unchanged from the one that trounced India at Edgbaston, beating the visitors by the mammoth margin of an inning and 242 runs. Ravi Bopara is set to retain his place because batsman Jonathan Trott has yet to recover from a shoulder injury, and with no sign that Chris Tremlett is heading back to full fitness, Tim Bresnan will be looking forward to seeing if he can make it 10 wins in 10 Tests.

The only real worry for England is James Anderson, who is suffering from a slight twinge in the right quadricep. The management is unlikely to risk the Lancastrian if there is even the slightest doubt over his fitness, so Durham's Graham Onions has been called into the squad as cover. As a like-for-like swap for Anderson, Onions would fit the bill, because he bowls close to the stumps and gets plenty of late swing. However, Steven Finn is also in the squad and - given the Indians all-too-obvious discomfort against the short-pitched ball - the Middlesex fast-bowling giant could get the nod if Anderson isn't fit and the wicket is hard and fast.

India desperately needs to up its game and take some positives from this last Test. The team has been humiliated and has rolled over like an obliging puppy in every match, despite periods of control in the first two Test matches.

It's famed batting lineup has yet to post a score of 300 in six attempts this summer, yet it seems inconceivable that top-quality players such as V.V.S. Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid will remain in a run drought for the entire series. Moreover, explosive opener Virender Sehwag will be itching to avenge himself on England's bowlers and atone for the king pair he suffered at Birmingham.

Meanwhile, of the bowlers, only the ever-persevering Praveen Kumar has shown any great desire to take the fight to the opposition, but he is a yard short of the pace required to trouble international batsmen. Ishant Sharma has bowled some quality spells, but is inexperienced and still needs to learn the tricks of the trade.

For India, it's time to show that they are made of sterner stuff than has been on offer so far: the country has some of the most dedicated fans in world cricket, and they deserve better, much better.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China Daily

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