Staying top Swann's highest priority
England were confirmed as the world’s best Twenty20 team only on Monday, but tomorrow they must beat India to retain that status.
The world T20 champions, led by Graeme Swann in the injury absence of Stuart Broad and Eoin Morgan, will concede their number-one perch to Sri Lanka and fall behind India with defeat at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Victory for England, however, will consolidate their position at the summit of the International Cricket Council rankings.
It will also be a sweet end to a bitter limited-overs tour during which England went down 5-0 in the one-day series, a scoreline completed by losing 10 wickets for 47 runs at the same venue on Tuesday.
Swann, part of the team that won the world title in the Caribbean last year, sees tomorrow’s game in the context of England defending top spot against the inaugural world T20 champions.
“We are T20 champions and that’s nice,” he said. “We’re the current T20 champions, playing the previous T20 champions, so we can look at that and say it’s a battle for the best Twenty20 team in the world.
“I don’t think anyone would look at the team we’ve got at the minute and say we’re firing on all cylinders in that 50-over series.
“There’s a few people out of nick and out of form but we’ve had a nice chance to draw a line under the 50-over series and we’ll be looking to approach this game with a freshness.
“Let’s face it - it can’t get any worse than it did the other night so we might as well go out there and enjoy it.”
Swann, the highest ranked spinner in the ICC’s Test and ODI tables, was far from his best in this month’s 50-over fixtures.
He took just two wickets in the four matches he played, having been rested at Mumbai to give Scott Borthwick a game, but was encouraged by the assistance the Kolkata pitch gave.
“I’ve been disappointed with the way I’ve bowled,” Swann admitted. “We haven’t played on spinning tracks apart from the first one was nice for a spinner and the last one was nice.
“In between, certainly the games I’ve played, they’ve been good batting wickets and I’ve not bowled as well as I would have hoped.
“The spirit in the camp is still very good and very high, which is unusual for a team who lost 5-0, but it’s a very young squad and a very resilient squad so we’re looking forward to it.”
That morale will improve further if Kevin Pietersen is passed fit to play tomorrow.
The last World T20 player of the tournament missed Tuesday’s ODI with a fractured left thumb but has a chance of featuring at Eden Gardens.
“I don’t know at the moment,” said Swann. “He’s just had a pretty tough work-out in the middle and he was hitting the ball pretty well.
“We’ll see how he shapes up in the morning, but it’s looking a bit more positive today.”