England looking to spoil India party tomorrow
Bangalore: Going by present form, India start as favourites against England in tomorrow`s high-profile World Cup match but rival captain Andrew Strauss on Saturday said his team would be looking to spoil the home team`s party in front of a jam-packed M Chinnaswamy Stadium here.
Strauss said there was plenty of excitement among his team-mates for tomorrow`s match and the pressure would be more on the Indians than on Englishmen.
"There is huge sense of anticipation right now. After the opening game, it is a huge occasion for us. Playing against India on their own turf is a great opportunity for us," he told reporters at the pre-match press conference.
"We just need to focus on playing smart cricket. In some ways, perhaps there is more pressure on India than us in this game. We want to play according to our plans and put them under pressure.
"Potentially, it is huge day for us because we need to send out pretty strong signals to other sides tomorrow. We are excited and confident about tomorrow`s game. We will love to spoil an Indian party in Bangalore tomorrow," Strauss said.
Even though he admitted that India are a formidable side at home, Strauss said England posess a good track record when it comes to pressure games.
"There is no doubt that they (India) are a strong side in home conditions. We played well against them in England but in India we have not played well enough. I think our bowlers were not smart enough and I think that was crucial.
"Having said that we played a lot of good cricket in the last 24 months or so and we are proud about that. In big high pressure games we can perform well and this is one of such high pressure games. We are very confident of doing well," he said.
Strauss, however, said champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who in all likelihood is playing his last World Cup, and destructive Virender Sehwag can pose a serious threat to England`s chances tomorrow.
"Sachin Tendulkar is one of the mammoths of world cricket for the last two decades. The fact that he has been doing the same thing for so long and with so much consistency is a great testimony of his preparation for a game. He is absolutely a great legend," he said.
Asked whether England have got specific plans up their sleeves to stop Sehwag, who scored a blistering 175 against Bangladesh in the tournament-opener, Strauss said, "Yes. No doubt we have plans for him.
"A player like Sehwag will score quickly if he stays at the wicket for more time. If we can get couple of wickets early, we can put their batting under pressure."
England`s key batsman Kevin Pietersen, in his new role as opener, has started off well and Strauss expects the right-hander to be at his best against India tomorrow.
"I think it is sort of a match that brings out the best in him (Pietersen). He has performed well in the sub-continent before and obviously, he knows this (Chinnaswamy) wicket well having played IPL here. As I said in big matches and big tournaments, generally we see the best from him," the skipper said.
"He is a match-winner for us. I am very confident that he is going to have telling performances in this World Cup," he added.
Strauss also refused to divulge any specific details about his playing eleven but said if the wicket demands England will play two spinners tomorrow.
"We had a look at the wicket yesterday before it rained.
Some say it behaves quite nicely, some say it is a good batting wicket and some say it will turn. We need to see the condition of the pitch before deciding the team," he said.
"If it is going to turn like what it did in the India-Australia warm-up game, then two spinners is going to be a very strong option for us. We got to see the conditions before assuming things. The weather conditions could change so we will make a decision before the toss," he stressed.
"We have got options in our squad to balance our side according to conditions."
India boasts of some quality spinners in Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin but Strauss said the English batters are up for the challenge.
"If it is turning, the spinners are going to come in to the game. And then it is important to find ways of rotating the strike. Our ability to spin has improved a lot in the recent years. It is a challenge to bat on a turning wicket, but we are prepared for it," he said.
The sub-continental wickets are generally spin-friendly and England bowling attack is primarily pace-oriented with Graeme Swann being the lone quality spinner.
But, Strauss said the best bowlers in his opinion are those "who can consistently ball in the right areas."
Although England had put up a forgettable display on the field against the Dutch, Strauss feels fielding is one department in which his side has an edge over India.
"The fielders have to be smart. In this game (against India) fielding is going to be an advantage for us. If we are good at the field we can put the Indians under pressure."
The controversial Umpire Decision Review System has made its debut in the World Cup and Strauss admitted he is a big fan of the technology.
"I have been a fan of UDRS. You get more decisions right as a result of it. It is very new in one-day cricket and over the course of the tournament we will get a better idea whether it is good for ODIs as it is in Test matches.
"It is a great tool to have in your armoury. If the umpire makes a poor decision, it can be over-turned," he said.