Laxman: India can rule the world
Batsman says strike bowlers key as rampant India prepare for third ODI with England.
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2008 15:03 GMT

Sharma limbers up for some more mayhem in Kanpur [AFP]
Pacemen Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan have given India's bowling strike force the edge and made the team potential world-beaters, says senior Test batsman VVS Laxman.

Wiry Sharma took 15 wickets and his new ball partner Zaheer took 11 on docile home pitches this month to record batting-heavy India's first Test series victory over Australia in seven years.

Fear factor

And with India currently putting England to the sword in the one-day series, Laxman believes his side are becoming the team to fear.

"We'd never seen such kind of bowling on flat Indian pitches by Indian pacers," said the wristy 34-year-old batsman, who became the eighth Indian to play in 100 Tests during the series.

"That was one of the reasons why the Australian batsmen were under tremendous pressure.

"The two contributed to half of the dismissals. That's been huge as we have always relied heavily on our spinners."

The 2-0 victory in the four-match series saw India move to second place in the official Test rankings. Thirteen points separate them from Australia.

Sharma was adjudged player of the series versus Australia but missed the first two one-dayers against England on Friday and Monday with an ankle injury.

India play two Tests against the tourists next month.

Swing when you're winning

The seasoned Zaheer and the 20-year-old Sharma struck early blows and then troubled Australian batsmen by reverse-swinging the old ball, backing mainline spinners Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Anil Kumble, who tallied 32 between them.

"We've never bowled so well in tandem. The pressure was put by both the pacers and spin bowlers and right through.

"This was the first time I saw, and the team saw, we put pressure even on the scoring rate of the opposition," Laxman said on Wednesday.

Graeme Swann has been drafted in to bolster England's attack [GALLO/GETTY]
"To become the number one Test side we'll have to win consistently."

India are in the process of rebuilding following the retirement of leg-spinner Anil Kumble, Test cricket's third-highest wicket-taker, and batsman Saurav Ganguly after the Australia series.

"All of us have taken the responsibility to perform consistently, that's why the team's been doing so well," Laxman said.

"(With) the confidence from beating Australia and the manner in which we played our cricket, I am sure we can end on a positive note against England as well."

Swann in

England's Graeme Swann is set to play in the third ODI against India after the off spinner was named in a 12-man squad on Wednesday.

However, left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom's hopes of returning to the side for Thursday's contest were dented after he underwent a scan for a back problem, having just recovered from an Achilles injury that kept him out of the first two

Yuvraj Singh is in line to become only the fourth player to score three consecutive one-day hundreds, after scoring 138 not out and 118 in the last two games.

Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar and South African Herschelle Gibbs have achieved that feat.

"Hopefully he will be doing it," captain Mahendra Dhoni said.

"One thing about Yuvi is, when he gets going, he is among the best."

The Kanpur pitch is expected to favour batsmen after the slow pitch in the previous game in Indore saw nine England batsmen fall to spin bowlers, the other being a run out.

India look likely to name an unchanged side.

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