England v India, 1st npower Test, Lord's, 4th day July 24, 2011

Prior expects tough final day

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In 2007, with a little help from the weather, India held on nine wickets down in the first Test at Lord's and went on to win the series. England are determined there won't be a repeat this time as they search for the nine scalps that will put them 1-0 up. However, if the evidence of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman seeing out the final hour is anything to go by, it will be a day of sweat and toil.

This time the rain should stay away and the buzzword for the home side will be patience. India have had to reshuffle their batting order after illness to Sachin Tendulkar and injury to Gautam Gambhir, but they will be hard to shift wherever they come in. Having worked themselves into such a dominant position, and overcome a potentially game-changing spell from Ishant Sharma, England are aware how crucial finishing the job will be.

"It's very important," said Matt Prior, whose unbeaten 103 propelled England to their 457-run lead. "Test wins against quality opposition don't come about very often and we've got ourselves in a very good position. It will be hugely frustrating not to back that up and go through with it. But we can't look too far ahead.

"The really important thing is we come in tomorrow like we always do and look to win the first half an hour, first hour, and go from there," he added. "If you start thinking we have to win this Test match, we have to take nine wickets, you can start building up unnecessary pressure on the bowlers. If we do what we've done for the last two years, keep it basic and build pressure, I'm sure we'll have a very good day."

England's three quick bowlers again caused problems for the India top order on the fourth evening - with Broad bowling a marvellous spell at Rahul Dravid as his rejuvenation continued - but the final day of a Test, especially if the sun shines, is a time for the spinner to make his mark. In Graeme Swann England have the best in the world, and Harbhajan Singh was been completely outbowled during this match, but to take a significant haul against this line-up would be one of Swann's greatest achievements.

"There are still a lot of runs on that wicket," Prior said. "There are no devils, it's a pretty good deck, but it's a huge amount of runs [to chase], especially when the ball gets a bit older. I think Swanny's going to play a huge part for us, and I don't think it's going to be easy. There's a lot of hard work ahead for us, and I think India's batting is pretty strong. The ball might not be swinging and seaming like it did in the first innings."

As early as the third over of India's chase James Anderson was bowling with just two slips plus a man at deep square-leg. Andrew Strauss's captaincy is well known to verge on the cautious and he also had a deep point in place during the final over. Prior, though, believes success will come not by stacking the slip cordon, but by drying up India's runs in a similar manner to how England found success in the Ashes.

"It's very easy to think we have a good lead and over-attack," he said. "If it was a quick, bouncy wicket you could have all those catching men, but I don't think that's necessarily the way we'll get wickets. We need to give bowlers an opportunity to get [the ball] up and swing it. You need to give them cover, you don't just want batsmen pushing through the covers. If we turn up and it starts swinging round corners we'll probably have more catchers in, but we'll take our wickets by building pressure and not letting the Indian batsmen score quickly."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hammond on July 26, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    @gagguv- I took your advice and let the game end. England destroyed the Indian batting line up, methodically and without any real trouble. Sachin, Dravid and Laxman looked like clueless old men outside their comfort zone. 3-1 England and take the pretending number one sides crown off them. It doesn't really fit.

  • 5wombats on July 25, 2011, 19:53 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan; very very good prediction - that's what happened!

  • PK1989 on July 25, 2011, 14:56 GMT

    india will lose this series 1-2....even to win a single test match,indians will have to play out of their skins

  • rahulcricket007 on July 25, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    many sri lankans are muttering here that india would get thrashed by england because they are weak at overseas.really? take alook at stats . india win in england in1971, 1986( don't call that team bad because the same team beat australia in1986 ashes)2007(becauuse of combined effect of dhoni and bad weather). india drew series in australia in2004 by 1-1.beat them on a bouncy track on perth where they were not beaten since 1995.(not to mention that at that time australia was there with their full strength) draw test series recently in SA by 1-1.now the srilankan team have not won a single test match in AUS ,SA & INDIA. and they call themselves a better team than india .

  • sachin_vvsfan on July 25, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    @5wombats and @Hammond. He probably meant that 62/5 . If the target had been 360-380 then this would be a good contest as india will try to win. Now draw is the only option left for india. But if England can get dravid and laxman before lunch then it match will be over after just tea.

  • dummy4fb on July 25, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Hi what is the odds for India winning?

  • rohanblue on July 25, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    i am indian fan, bt india nt at all in winning position , lets hope fr a draw.....

  • rahulcricket007 on July 25, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    if dravid and laxman survives the first session then it will be a draw. however i would argue that england are not good team as they are supposed to be in this test match. after their batsmen make huge total , i was supposing that india would be get out under200 as the 3rd day conditions were favourable to seamers . there was a breeze and clouds over the ground .their so much hyped bowler anderson pick up only two wickets and that was of no. 10& 11.best spinner swann took only one wicket .inthe english 2nd innings top 6 batsmens were cheaply out against a handicapped 3 bowler indian attack without playing their strike bowler. in the last session of 27 overs they pick only one wicket and giving 80 runs . their opener cook looks uncomforable against praveen in both innings . if england couldnot win this test against a wounded team then i will be disappointed .

  • dummy4fb on July 25, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    If India makes past this mountain.. with say Sachin scoring a ton would make this game one of the best of all times.

  • dummy4fb on July 25, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    Raina, MS and Gambhir try to win the match. Laxman, Dravid and Sachin anchoring their innings to save the match. This should be India's strategy on the final day. Hope our boys deliver. Sachin on his way to make his 100 at Lords. More exciting than a ODI, can't wait to see the start of the match.

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