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England v India, 3rd Test, The Oval
'India can't be conservative' - Shastri
August 8, 2007
Ravi Shastri previews the series-decider between England and India at The Oval
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Ravi Shastri : "I'd like to see India come out and play positively. Playing for a draw could just backfire on them " © Getty Images

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me Ravi Shastri to look ahead to the all-important third Test between India and England at The Oval.

Ravi, an important game for both the teams, but probably one of the more important Tests for India in recent times?

Ravi Shastri: [This is] probably the most important Test for India in the past five-six years because they've never been in a position to win the series with one Test to go. They last won a series in England in '86; this could be the last tour of England for many players in the side, so I think the stage is set for history to be made.

What I am keen to see tomorrow is a positive Indian side - a side that is not thinking about winning the series at the moment but are thinking about winning the Test and if they do that they will win the series. But if they allow the pressure of winning a series to play on their mind, you've seen what has happened in the past [with that mindset] - they took the lead in South Africa, in West Indies and in Australia - but then they were too conservative, rather than taking the bull by the horns and going for the kill.

SV: There's been a lot of talk about the aggression and the intensity shown by the two teams at Trent Bridge. Do you see any let-up at all from India or do you see them going the same way?

RS: They're a team on a high - India won the last Test so I see them carrying on from where they left off, though I expect England to bounce back a little harder - aggression-wise, tactics-wise. I expect them to be more positive which is very good for the game of cricket. We should be in for a cracker of game.

SV: You scored a big hundred here at The Oval when you played here in 1990. Your thoughts on the pitch and how it is going to play?

RS: There has always been a good pitch here at The Oval. I haven't seen it from close quarters yet, but it's the sort of pitch on which, if you see the new ball through, there are runs to be made. It's one of the hardest pitches in the country - the ball will bounce but there will be even bounce which means that if you are in there for a bit, it will encourage stroke-play as well.

SV: Lastly, Anil Kumble could also play a crucial role in this Test, especially on a pitch that provides some bounce...

RS: Apart from the bounce, there will be some turn on days four and five so there will be something in it for the spinners.

But what will interest me is the way England play. It's England who are 1-0 down and Michael Vaughan has not lost a series at home for a long time and he would like to keep that record intact. This means that England will call the play, but then it also gives India a chance to sneak in. England will try to be extra positive and if there's a period when things aren't going their way and India take the initiative, then there's a chance that they [India] could win this Test.

One-zero up doesn't mean that you [India] sit back and play for a draw and play negative cricket because that could just backfire on you. I'd like to see India come out positive, wanting to win this game.

SV: Thank you Ravi, for your views. This is Siddhartha Vaidyanathan signing off.

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