sport

Swann ready for India challenge

Graeme Swann is ready to face India in England's opening Test starting Thursday after an emergency dash home to tend to his ill baby daughter.

Swann returned home last week after his daughter Charlotte was taken into hospital, but he is now back with the team in Ahmedabad ahead of the four-Test series.

In his column in the Sun, Swann wrote: "I am now totally focused on the First Test after flying home because our little baby was unwell.

"Two long-haul flights in the space of five days is not ideal preparation for the opening match of a huge series for England - but some things are more important than cricket."

Although Swann missed several days of practice, the spinner insisted he feels ready to go.

"I had sleep flying back to India and any jet-lag has gone. I'm fresh and the ball has been coming out well in practice," wrote.

"I am now concentrating on the Test. I love it when I know I'll have a lot of work to do. The conditions will be hot, the pitches dry and spin will be a big factor in the four-Test series.

"I genuinely believe we can win but we must play better against spin than we did in the three Tests against Pakistan earlier this year.

"We need to get back to playing the same brand of smart, aggressive cricket we did when winning The Ashes a couple of winters ago."

Much of the focus in the build-up to the Test has surrounded Kevin Pietersen's return to the team for the first time since he was dropped for sending 'provocative' text messages to members of the South Africa team.

Swann has welcomed Pietersen back to the fold and believes he can make a big difference in India.

"I hope we'll play sensible but aggressive cricket," he said.

"Nobody can be more destructive, of course, than Kevin Pietersen and his return to the dressing room has been very smooth.

"I think that was always going to be the case after those meetings with him in Oxford before the tour. That effectively killed off anything that happened during the summer and it's been the normal mickey-taking and banter with Kevin.

"In any dressing room, there are always leg-pulling comments.

"Although I must be honest and say Kevin is not the butt of most of the jokes because there are one or two players specially reserved for that!

"Now we want the cricket to do the talking. And I'm sure Kevin feels the same way."