Swann relishing final push
Graeme Swann is eagerly anticipating the final day of the npower series, which will see England aiming to secure a 4-0 whitewash of India with victory at the Kia Oval.
Swann and his team-mates came up against stern resistance today as Rahul Dravid carried his bat for a defiant unbeaten 146 in India’s first-innings 300.
However, after Andrew Strauss opted to enforce the follow-on with a lead of 291, Swann took two wickets, including the prized scalp of Dravid, to reduce the tourists to 129 for three.
With a dry pitch offering plenty of turn, England’s off-spinner, who claimed three wickets yesterday evening, will be expected to make a telling impact tomorrow and can’t wait to get to work.
“I look forward to it, having to play a big part in a potential victory for England - that's always exciting,” he said.
“It's going to be a hard day - make no bones about that. We've got seven more wickets (to take), and we need to get them fairly sharpish so we don't end up in a situation where we might have to bat again.
“It would help if we could get three or four before lunch, and especially get rid of (Sachin) Tendulkar (who reached stumps unbeaten on 35). We don't want him sticking around too long.
"We need to crack on in the morning in the same vein we finished tonight, because I thought we bowled really well in that last session.”
Having played second fiddle to the seamers throughout this series, Swann has understandably enjoyed conditions at Surrey’s home ground.
"If you're on a wicket that turns and bounces and you’re not causing any problems to anyone, you're probably in the wrong profession,” he explained.
Swann also expressed his pleasure at removing the tenacious Dravid, who, after making centuries at Lord’s and Trent Bridge, batted for over seven hours in the match.
“The way he's batted this summer has just been exceptional,” Swann added.
"It is very satisfying first of all to get him out. His was the one wicket we were really gunning for tonight - because he carried his bat in the first innings, and has got a hundred in every Test match (of the summer) more or less. We're happy to see the back of him.”
Swann’s second wicket came when he bowled Virender Sehwag through the gate and he was unfortunate not to claim a third victim before stumps as Tendulkar appeared to be stumped, only for England’s fielders to remain silent.
When asked about the absence of an appeal, a jovial Swann replied: “What can I say? I'm at the bowler's end, so I can't see. They've only got about 12 pairs of eyes round the stumps!”
"It's not exactly the brains trust who field round there, so it's no surprise nobody picked up on it. I am a bit surprised Matty Prior didn't, because he appeals for everything.”
Regardless of the result tomorrow, England will replace India at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
While Swann agreed with Dravid’s assessment that greater tests lie ahead, he feels England’s ascent to the summit is fully deserved.
"The litmus test for this team could be winning in the sub-continent. We've got to go play Pakistan and Sri Lanka this winter, and that could be a good test of where we are,” he said.
"You'd think it's going to be a more even contest in India, when our seamers aren't as effective.
"With this bowling attack we have at the minute, in the conditions we have had this summer, undoubtedly we are the best team in the world.”