New Delhi: India's in-form opening batsman and vice-captain Gautam Gambhir on Thursday said the England series will throw up its challenges and he is prepared to face them.
The English media and former cricketers have created enormous hype over the series and stated that it would be difficult for India to live up to their No.1 Test status. They feel that after their Ashes triumph, England have emerged strong contenders to dethrone India, who have managed to hold on to the number one ranking since Australia's free fall.
Gambhir, who has played an important part in India's rise to the top of world cricket, said the real battle will be on the field.
"You will end up looking like a fool if you can't back your words with performance on the field," Gambhir said on the hype the series has generated.
"The hype, war of words and mind games have pretty much become part of every series. It is all fine as long as you can back it with performance. The real test is on the field. For me, other things don't matter. It is your performance that will speak at the end of the day," Gambhir said on the sidelines of a promotional event.
The Delhi player said he is excited about playing his first series in England.
"It will be a different challenge and I am mentally prepared for it. Hopefully I can deliver with the bat."
"I want to keep it simple and think about my batting. It is an honour to be named vice-captain and it comes with responsibility."
Gambhir came in for criticism for playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a shoulder injury that forced him to drop out of the West Indies tour.
"I don't want to comment on people who thought that I preferred club over country. I have always played for the country with passion."
On youngsters who replaced him and some of his other senior teammates in the ongoing West Indies series and found the going tough, Gambhir said they should be given more time to settle down.
"They are the future of Indian cricket, they will take over from the seniors. We must have faith in our bench strength. Virat Kohli and Abhinav Mukund have not played enough Test matches and naturally they will take time to settle down. You cannot expect them to go out and score centuries staightaway."
On Harbhajan Singh not being among wickets, Gambhir said: "He has been around for over a decade and he is close to crossing the 400-wicket mark. I don't agree that he has become a defensive bowler, he is still an attacking bowler. You don't expect him to get a fifer every time he bowls. I strongly feel he is has a crucial role to play in England and he will deliver."
Gambhir made light of the fact that he would be playing at Lord's in the 2000th Test, saying "it is another Test match for me."