India v England, 1st Test, Chennai December 10, 2008

Pietersen backs decision to play Swann

Cricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen believes Graeme Swann "will be right at the Indian batsmen" © Getty Images

Despite being up against India's formidable batting line-up, England captain Kevin Pietersen expects Graeme Swann to put up a good performance in the first Test which starts on Thursday in Chennai. "It's a decision we've come to because we think it will spin," he said. "We think he's the best and most attacking option.

"We know the Indians are not bad players of spin. But no matter how good you are, you still have to play well on the day. He'll be right at the Indian batsmen. Krejza did well here, and I think Swann's better."

He was confident of the spinner performing well and said he deserved his debut. "He's ecstatic. It's a huge moment for anybody, to win that first Test cap. As a spinner, bowling in India is a huge challenge. But we've seen how Shaggy [Shaun] Udal bowled here on the last tour. When it's your debut game, you'll be buzzing for four or five days."

Pietersen believed England had picked their best XI, though Matt Prior's inlcusion may have raised a few eyebrows. "I told the boys it was one of the most difficults decisions to make. It's a healthy situation when you have the likes of Shah, Amjad and Adil Rashid to put pressure on the places.

"We've also changed the keeper because we feel Matty Prior's a better option with the bat. He's also improved his keeping. I don't think he lost confidence during the one-day series. It was pretty tough for everyone. He wasn't the only one."

Pietersen said the mood within the team was quite upbeat and they were looking to make amends after the 5-0 thrashing in the one-day series. "We're the underdogs, but it's been a distracting time for both teams. The boys are so excited now about playing. We hopped on a plane in Abu Dhabi and came here because the boys love playing cricket in India. At the end of the day, we're professional sportsmen, and when you step on the field, you turn on a little switch and play to your best."

He said while Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were the players to watch out for, though he suggested England might have a plan for Yuvraj. "There's lots of pressure on Yuvraj as well. It'll be interesting to see how he plays the short ball."