London: India`s middle-order mainstay Rahul Dravid feels the fitness of the fast bowlers will be crucial to the team`s success in the upcoming four-match Test series against England, beginning next week at the Lord`s.
"It`s a hard one to call. England are playing at home, so they have that advantage. We`re a good side, a settled side, and we`ve been playing good cricket over the last couple of years. If we can keep our fast bowlers fit, then we`ll be very competitive," Dravid said.
Zaheer Khan will spearhead the Indian attack in the much-anticipated series, with the resurgent Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth or Praveen Kumar likely to support the left-arm seamer.
The series assumes significance as it will be a contest between the world`s numero uno and number three sides in this form of the game.
The fact that India beat England in their last visit in 2007 will also weigh on the home side`s mind, reckoned Dravid.
"All series are important series. But this one is important because it`s a series between two teams that have had good recent records, which gives it a bit more context. We won in England last time, so from that point of view England will want to do better this time," he said.
As far as key players in the opposition line-up is concerned, Dravid picked Graeme Swann and James Anderson.
"James Anderson has bowled really well. He`s been the trump card. Obviously Graeme Swann is a top-class spinner. We first saw him in England bowling here last time and the boys rated him.
"He`s come on leaps and bounds from then and has become one of their lead bowlers. Swann and Anderson are the key," Dravid was quoted as saying in the August issue of `The Cricketer`.
Dravid, who averages over 65 in Tests in England, said Indian batsmen will look to be positive against Swann.
"He`s an attacking bowler and that`s one of the things that is different. He`s not just looking to contain, he`s looking to take wickets. He`s not scared to toss the ball up and gets turn with good sideways spin. It will be a good contest against batsmen who are good players against spin, who will not be scared to take him on," Dravid said.
According to Dravid, the highlight of his 15-year-old illustrious career has been India`s rise to become the world`s best Test team.
"I`m really proud that India is the number one Test team. I`ve seen Indian cricket since 1996 and to be part of this journey and to see India become the No. 1 Test team – not just for a short period of time because we`ve now been there for more than a year -- it`s something I`m very proud of," he said.