Focus on Dhoni, insists Swann

Focus on Dhoni, insists Swann

Indian skipper more dangerous than Tendulkar, says ace off-spinner

Swann, the best off-spinner on the evidence of his consistent performance over the last two-three years, felt the Indian skipper was likely to have more impact than even the most prolific batsman in the world. “It would be very very risky to focus all our energies on Sachin Tendulkar,” cautioned the 32-year-old.

“Sure, he’s the best player in the modern generation but they’ve got so many other good players, and if we focus all our energies on just one guy, there’s going to be someone else sneaking in the back door.”

Terming Dhoni the most charismatic player India have ever had, Swann said: “You only have to be in India to realise the sway he holds in that country now. He’s probably a more important member of the team right now than any other player, because he leads from the front and is a very dangerous cricketer. If we can get at anyone, he’s probably the key man.”

In the same breath, the Englishman termed Virender Sehwag’s absence as a big loss to India. “Whenever you take a player of his quality out of a team, it is going to be a loss, no matter who replaces him,” he opined.

“As a team, you get used to relying on guys who are that good, and over the last three or four years, Sehwag has been phenomenal in both forms of the game. If you took JT (Jonathan Trott) out of our team, it would be a big hole to fill for whoever comes in. Yes, it is going to be a blow for India, how big you never know, because we don’t know how long he’s out for. But he’s one of the best players in the world,” he offered.

Refusing to pick favourites for the series, Swann said he was happy with the way his team was placed at the moment. “I don’t know if we’re favourites but we’re certainly very comfortable when I look at the two teams. India have got a much-lauded batting line-up and rightly so, but if anyone said to me we could pick and choose out of both teams, I’d be pretty comfortable with the one we’ve got at the minute.

Alastair Cook is scoring centuries for fun, JT is averaging over 70, Andrew Strauss has just come back into form last week. I’m more than happy looking at our team on paper, and hopefully come Saturday or Sunday, I’ll be sitting here saying I told you so.”

Swann also saw no point in comparing India’s series with the Ashes. “The Australian series you should completely view as a separate entity,” he said. “It’s the Ashes and there will be nothing for an Englishman or an Australian to rival that on its own, just the hype and sheer size of that series. But this is as close as we’ll get.

“India are the number one team in the World and have got there through merit. There’s no way to cheat those rankings, you need to earn those points to get to the top, and India have done that. So it’s a massive series for us.”

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