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India looking to Bridge the gap as 2nd Test vs England begins today

A Test down in the series, India will have to bounce back to prevent England from taking unassailable lead, reports Sanjjeev K Samyal. Five things India must get right | Edgy Bhajji
By Sanjjeev K Samyal | Hindustan Times, Nottingham
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2011 09:20 AM IST

After the fall of an England wicket at Lord's, Duncan Fletcher would come inside the dressing room and remark, "Didn't I tell you this is how we can get him?" It almost became a routine after every England top-order wicket.

“Fletcher looks to be a master at plotting a batsman’s dismissal,” said a member of the India team. In terms of strategy, India have the edge over England by having their former coach. However, Fletcher’s challenge is bigger than just strategising. His team has lacked the intensity that helped them win the 2007 series. Getting them pumped up could be the key as he tries to help his wards recover from the first Test defeat.

England will vouch that in terms of skill, balance and temperament, MS Dhoni's team is second to none. There is little to choose between the two contestants. The difference could be desire — England are dying to get the No. 1 tag.

In 2007, India had come here with their reputation at stake. A severe backlash after the World Cup debacle in the West Indies had pricked their pride. Now, they come here with nothing much to prove. They have held the No. 1 Test rank for a while and are the one-day world champions. The motivation is about playing for pride.

Many believe that if the team had shown the hunger and grit of the last series, they would have scrapped through at Lord's too. Four years ago, India were under pressure to save the game as well and had managed to hang on with nine wickets down.

If Fletcher can stoke the fire again, India will be a handful in the coming games. England are wary of their impressive record of making comebacks as Dhoni & Co have fought back almost each time they have been down.

“They are going to come back hard. Their record suggests so. Last time, we missed beating them at Lord's and they came here and beat us,” said skipper Andrew Strauss.

“We came to Trent Bridge (in 2007) very confident, having dominated the first Test. We lost the toss and were in trouble from ball one. India never allowed us to get back into the game. We are better prepared this time but are not taking anything for granted,” said Strauss.

A backlash, Strauss said, was a natural reaction. “When you lose a game, any side wants to prove you are better than what they showed last week. It will be the case for India.”

The first Test produced some electric cricket and Nottingham cricket fans can expect a similar treat from the two high profile contestants.

As Strauss said, "There is always added intensity when the No. 1 position is at stake. India have been playing fantastic cricket and we have enjoyed a lot of recent success."

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