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Dravid says India undaunted by Bazball from resurgent England

"We have been successful in getting 20 wickets and winning Tests. That for me is positive cricket too"

Nagraj Gollapudi
India remain undaunted by the prospect of facing a revitalised England side, one much changed in attitude to the side they played in the first four Tests of the Pataudi Trophy last year. That series finds its culmination in the Edgbaston Test which starts on Friday. England are fresh off a 3-0 sweep of the WTC champions New Zealand, and playing a brand new, ultra-attacking style of cricket.
India lead the series 2-1, mostly because - as coach Rahul Dravid pointed out - they have been playing their own style of "aggressive" and "positive" cricket. That brand got them to the WTC final last summer and keeps them in the hunt for another trip to the final in this cycle.
Both Dravid and interim captain Jasprit Bumrah were posed similar queries about England's new batting approach
"Any which way they play gives us opportunities," Dravid said on Wednesday. "We are leading the series 2-1. Any which way they play the game, we believe it's up to us, I think we have got to focus on our cricket and not so much worry about what England is doing and what it is they're playing.
"We've been a pretty positive side as well. We were second in the World Test Championship cycle last year. This year we find ourselves third in the table, just underneath the top two. So we have been pretty successful, we have been pretty successful in getting 20 wickets and winning Test matches. That for me is positive cricket as well. Of course, they might have a strategy, or they might have some tactics that they might come in and play with on the particular day - that can change as well depending on conditions. It's our job to respond to whatever they put out and we will be focused on trying to do that."
Behind India's dominance in Test cricket in the past few years - both home and overseas - has been their bowling attack, led by the quicks, which has prised out 20 wickets consistently. Last summer the England batters were put under constant pressure by an attack led by Bumrah, but also including Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur. Barring Joe Root, no other England batter showed consistency. Since the start of 2021, Indian bowlers have the second-best average and are also second in terms of strike rate, well ahead of England who are mid-table.
Freshly appointed as captain, Bumrah insisted that India still held the edge. Asked about his opinion on England's attacking approach against New Zealand, Bumrah said: "I am not focusing on how the England team is playing. We know our strengths and if we do our job well, we believe that our team can win and do well anywhere, in any condition. So, we want to give more attention to our team because we don't want to give a mental advantage to anyone thinking about what the other team is doing. If we do our job well, things will fall in place."
Bumrah nearly rolled his eyes when asked whether it was frightening to see England batters chase down targets as they did against New Zealand. "I play my cricket very differently in comparison to any other players. I do not want to give any mental advantage to any of the players. I look at myself and I feel that what I have to do to prepare best and to be in the right frame of mind because if I am in a very good head space then we are very difficult to beat. That is the mindset that we want to get into. And then if we are there then everything else would be taken care of."
Bumrah said he did not want to look back at what had already happened in the first four Tests, including wins at Lord's and Oval, matches in which he was the catalyst with bat and ball.
"We don't look in the past. Every cricket game you want to win. Isn't it? We never play any game to lose or just to compete or play for a draw. We want to play for a win. What has happened in the past, that's all gone. We try to be in the moment. We want to try to be immersed in the moment and try to focus on the job at hand and try to job at hand and try to give our best shot."

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo