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'We are back in the game'

December 20, 2008 19:01 IST

Restricting India to 453 is a job well done and Kevin Pietersen and his men are now very much back into the final Test, asserts England off-spinner Graeme Swann.

With centurions Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, partners in a record 314-run second-wicket stand, cruising merrily after lunch, Swann triggered a top-order collapse with a three-wicket burst, claiming both the overnight batsmen and Sachin Tendulkar.

And with India eventually being bowled out for 453, Swann believes England stood a chance to win the game and level the two-match series which they trail 0-1.

"(Restricting them to) 450, we did very well to keep ourselves in the game. Score around 500-550 and we were out of it. Three days cricket to go and if we can get a very big total over the next two days and get any sort of lead, anything's possible on the last day," Swann asserted.

"Especially after what we saw in Chennai," said the Englishman, still nursing the defeat.

India had a perfect morning session when Gambhir and Sehwag scored nearly at four-per-over as the hosts eyed a 500-plus total.

"At lunch time, they were 302 for one and we didn't no where the next wicket will come from. Luckily we have a light-hearted dressing room and we were laughing at the face of adversity. The two wickets after lunch got us back into the match. We are very happy with the hour and got us into position where it can effect the result of the game," he said.

The onus, he said, was now on the batsmen to negate the threat of India's two-pronged spin attack comprising Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra.

"The wicket was very flat there today. (Andrew) Flintoff was phenomenal with the pace he got out of the wicket, frightening the way he was getting it through," said Swann.

"It would be good for batting the next two days. How we negate their spinners will be important for us," Swann said.

On his scalps, Swann said though he cherished all three wickets, Tendulkar's was definitely the special one.

"Still early in Test career and so many good Indian players. No doubt who the number one player in the team was. It was nice to get him out today," the Nottinghamshire spinner said.

Like in Chennai, Swann completely outshone England's frontline spinner Monty Panesar here but still seemed to have enough respect for his spin colleague.

"I don't know about closing the gap. I have only played two games. Each series I go into all I can think of is if I can get a game and then if I can play the next series. There is a Caribbean tour coming along and I'll be delighted if I play in it.

"Monty is a class bowler, if I can have anything like the success he has had I will be very lucky," he added.

Swann admitted failure to stop India chasing down 387 in the Chennai Test still rankled him.

"Me and Monty expected to win the game in Chennai. In the end, we were outplayed by a genius on the day... Monty's is a class act and we have talked about how we are going to take wickets in this game and bowling today he has showed he is still bowling well," he said.

On this match, Swann said Gambhir and Dravid, especially the latter, did a great job for India.

"It's a very good pitch. Once you get a partnership, it's is important to get going and get a very big one. Gambhir and Dravid did so well. Dravid was exceptional, he was under so much pressure from the whole of India, but didn't offer us any chance and played really well," Swann said.

After India were bowled out, England openers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss came out to bat but retreated into the pavilion once umpires offered them light.

Incidentally, sun soon came out and there was confusion whether play would resume. Swann said he understood the crowd's confusion but ICC rules leave no such provision.

"One of the rules of the game is that if you come off in extra time you cannot go back. It's disappointing for the crowd but you need to have rules and draw the line somewhere," he added.

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