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The Rediff Special/Deepti Patwardhan
Indian spin the biggest challenge: Strauss
February 16, 2006
Having made his debut at the age of 26, Andrew Strauss knows there are no easy games in international cricket.
It was this acknowledgement that saw him grab the first opportunity, scoring 112 at the Lord's against New Zealand on debut, climb the ladders of success rapidly and quickly become indispensable in the England line-up.
After helping his team beat the West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, the South African-born player has turned his eye to India.
"Test cricket is about challenging yourself. And there is no bigger challenge of facing the Indian spinners in India," said Strauss during a press meet in Mumbai on Thursday.
The Middlesex player, who goes about his job effectively without inviting gasps of wonder from the audience, said he had been practising for India for close to two months now.
Strauss had left the Pakistan tour mid-way to be with his wife during the birth of their first child.
"There are a couple of technical things I have been working on. Obviously, there is not huge amount of spin bowling back home and the indoor pitches are not very helpful either. But we have been using the video footage of the Indian bowlers and are trying to work on options we want to use against them."
It is the first international outing to India for the left-handed opener, who played only three one-day internationals against India, during the NatWest Challenge in 2004 in England.
The England cricket team, which had an extended net session on Thursday, has also tried to prepare their batsmen by roughing up the practice pitches a little at the Brabourne stadium.
"The conditions here are very, very different from what they are in February in England. But the time spent in the middle till now has given us an appreciation of the things to come for the rest of the tour.
"We still got some bounce from the wickets here, which was more than what we are expecting for the Test matches. But we have really enjoyed the experience and are preparing for the unique conditions."
The 28-year-old, who has scored seven hundreds in 21 Tests, admitted that the tour to Pakistan straight after the Ashes euphoria was not ideal for England, but would have helped them get a measure of things in the subcontinent.
"All of us struggled in Pakistan. We were slow to adapt and paid the price for it. So having come here early were are trying to spend as much time possible in the nets.
"The bowlers dominated the game in Pakistan. But the top-order batsmen failed to react to the pressure. We are paid to do the job but it just did not work in Pakistan."
Strauss also disagreed to accept that their spin bowling let them down in Pakistan and is also likely to do so in India.
"I don't think the Indian bowlers had a good time in Pakistan either," he argued. "The bowling conditions in England are very different but we are backing our bowlers to do well.
"All of them are motivated. And it would be wrong to say that we don't have a good spin attack. Monty Panesar has been good in the nets so far; he has been excellent at times. He is eager to learn."