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We don't deserve to lose the series: Flintoff

Stand-in England skipper said that his team, sans a few key players, did not deserve to lose the series to India who have taken a 1-0 lead.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 16:41 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Stand-in England skipper Andrew Flintoff today said that his team, sans a few key players, including regular skipper Michael Vaughan, did not deserve to lose the series to India who have taken a 1-0 lead ahead of the third and final Test starting here on March 18.

"We want to win the Mumbai Test. It would be a massive achievement if we could beat the Indian team. In the last two Tests we have shown signs of it. We just need to get our act together over all five days," the all-rounder told a press conference here.

"We have done well on the whole except for one session in the second Test (at Mohali which England lost by nine wickets). I don't think at this stage we deserve to lose the series. We hope to square it," said the 28-year-old Lancashire player, the visitors' most impressive batsman with two half centuries (70 and 51) at Mohali.

But England's chances of squaring the series might have already suffered a major blow with the shin trouble developed by their pace bowler Steve Harmison during the Mohali Test in which he bowled only four overs when India were chasing the target.

"Harmy has a sore right shin and has gone for an x-ray. The investigations are on. At this stage he has not been ruled out of the Test. We have to wait till tomorrow to see his condition," Flintoff said.

The tall paceman whose forte is his steepling bounce on even featherbeds looked an extremely doubtful starter for the series decider.

But Flintoff also admitted that his team's batsmen needed to do more with at least one batsman getting a big 100 rather than be satisfied with scores of 60s or 70s in order to put up a big first innings score and put India under pressure.

"We need to do more. To compete with India we need to put up a big first innings score. We need a big hundred from someone. We have got a few 60s and 70s and it will be very good if one of our batsmen makes a big 100," the England all-rounder, who also took four first innings wickets in Mohali, said.

Flintoff ruefully agreed that England needed to try and dismiss his counterpart Rahul Dravid, who is in tremendous form in the series, cheaply.

"He's nicknamed 'The Wall'. It is very difficult to get him out once he is set. He's a great example of how to bat in the sub-continent. He goes on and on. He's a fine player," Flintoff said in Dravid's praise.

Asked whether the team would go into the match with two spinners, Flintoff said it was an option that England had, but a final decision would have to be taken only tomorrow after another look at the Wankhede stadium pitch.

"It's an option we have, but will have to wait and see how the pitch is tomorrow. It was damp today with all the watering, but looked to be a traditional Mumbai wicket that would aid spin," he said.

Flintoff disagreed when asked if Sachin Tendulkar had become a lesser batsman in his team's eyes than before.

"He's got 30-odd Test hundreds and lots of runs. I don't see him as a lesser batsman than before. We are wary of him," the all-rounder said.

Flintoff said that the time has come for the tailenders to deliver with the bat when asked the reason for coach Duncan Fletcher giving extra batting tips in today's nets to two-Test old number eleven Monty Panesar.

"The roll of the ball is changing. In the first Test Steve Harmison got 39. In the second Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh got vital runs). The equation changed when they got past us (in the first innings).

"The tailenders need to get some runs. Monty is keen to improve his batting and to get runs," he said.

Flintoff said the team had left the choice of playing the sweep shot against the spinners to the individual batsmen.

"The sweep is an effective shot against the spinners. But it's upto the individual batsmen (when to play it)," he added.

The stand-in visiting team skipper also did not think that back-to-back Tests are taking a toll on his team members.

"We are a young and fit side. Everyone is fine and is in decent shape," he said.

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 15:57 IST