Swann: We're ready to rewrite history
GRAEME Swann has backed England to make their highest ever fourth-innings chase after declaring: "History is there to be rewritten".
England need 340 to win the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle. That is eight runs more than their most successful chase – against Australia in 1928.
Swann, who took 6-82 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 214 to complete a 10-wicket match haul, has little regard for past form, however, and has backed his side to record a famous win.
They will resume on the fourth morning on 111-2, with Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen at the crease.
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"I'd say we're just favourites," said Swann. "I don't like statistics. Just because somebody won a game in 1912 chasing 290, or someone got 350 in the Kerry Packer era, doesn't mean anything. This is 2012. History is there to be rewritten.
"I don't think we need any genius – we just need a bit of good old fashioned rolling your sleeves up and getting your head down.
"The way KP and Trotty batted at the end is exactly what we need to do tomorrow. They got their heads down, they kept out the good ones, they made batting look as serene as it's going to get out there.
"People who actually apply themselves are hard to shift on that pitch."
Swann, who had completed his 12th five-wicket haul earlier in the day, is England's biggest optimist, but even he admitted a sense of frustration had crept in at the end of the Sri Lanka innings.
The last two wickets yielded 87 runs, with 46 added after a no-ball denied Stuart Broad the final scalp.
"Sure there have been moments of frustration," he said.
"That next 40 minutes (after the no-ball) hurt a little bit. You're looking at a chase of 285 or 290 and thinking 'we're going to win this'. But at 340, you think it's maybe tipped back to a 50-50 game.
"Those 40-odd runs were very hot and bothering for all the fielders."
Swann believes England's first-innings horror show – they mustered just 193 between them on a pitch Mahela Jayawardene had milked 180 from – will inspire them to do better this time.
"We're all disappointed with the first innings. To make the whole innings last 40-odd overs just wasn't acceptable and that's not just the top six, that's all 11 players.
"But the way we bounced back from that proved this team doesn't dwell dwell on things that are in the past. We probably had our best session of the winter after that, getting five wickets. That's a signal of the strength of this team."
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, who made a momentum-shifting half-century at the end of the Sri Lankan innings, is confident the hosts can see England off for the second time.
"We have the psychological advantage because they need to score more than 300," he said.
"We have to be patient and do the basics well to get wickets in the morning.
"We have a big chance, but we have to come out and bowl well early on."