We need to be more consistent if we qualify for QF
Chennai: England captain Andrew Strauss has urged his players to raise the level of their performance to go the distance in the World Cup if they manage to reach the quarter-finals.
England are not yet sure of a berth in the knockout stage but their 18-run win over the West Indies yesterday, has brought them back in contention from Group B, which is still wide open.
The remaining three quarter-finals berths from group B could be grabbed by any of the four teams — India, England Bangladesh and the West Indies.
Only South Africa, with eight points from five games, have advanced to the knockout stage from Group B. The three spots will be decided after the South Africa-Bangladesh tie on March 19 and India-West Indies match on March 20.
"It was a tough game. We were determined not to return home tomorrow (Friday). If we do progress in this tournament we got to be a lot better than we had been. We are not going to hide behind the fact that we won today. We got to be lot better and more consistent," Strauss told reporters at the post-match press conference.
He credited the thrilling 18-run win over West Indies to the unity of the team.
"More than anything, the kind of togetherness that got us through. We have been through some tough times through the winter. We did not want to leave the World Cup at this state.
I am proud of the lads," he said.
Strauss said the Chepauk wicket was much better than the one played against South Africa, but hastened to add that it was difficult to bat at times.
"There were periods in the game when batting was difficult before the ball was changed. It was reversing a little bit and keeping low. Obviously, the spinners played a role on both sides. There was the odd ball which was going to do some thing. There were times when the ball was hard it was easy to bat.
"May be we were short by 20-30 runs and clearly there was lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of the bowlers. We were desperate to win. We needed to take early wickets. James Tredwell did an outstanding work getting out Chris Gayle and then three others," said Strauss.
Asked what he thought when Gayle (43) and later Andre Russel (49) were going strong, Strauss said, "I still thought there could be another twist in the tale. We felt something is going to happen always. Graeme Swann got two wickets in an over which completely changed the complexion of the game. We were disappointed after losing the game against Bangladesh.
All we could do is to win the game today."
On England winning the match despite the absence of Kevin Pieterson, Paul Collingwood and Stuart Broad, Strauss said, "It`s tough when you are sitting outside and taking part in the net practice and waiting for your turn. To bring Luke Wright and Tredwell in a massive game like this was a bit of gamble, but they did outstandingly well."
He also had words of praise for Ravi Bopara, saying he had an outstanding spell getting two wickets.
Strauss agreed it was the right recipe to go with two off-spinners against West Indies, saying there were several left-handers in the Caribbean side and it helped.
Asked whether it was difficult for him as captain to select the team, he said, "It`s been tough three days. To try and get myself and rest of the guys up after the Bangladesh defeat which hurt us pretty hard. Then, I had to make some tough calls selection wise. None of the guys wanted to go home tomorrow (Friday) morning,. We were motivated to not let that happen."
Man-of-the-match James Tredwell, who finished with 4/48, said he was delighted to get the opportunity to help his side win.
"I am Happy that I was able to respond to the call."