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July 24, 2011
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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