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England looking to spoil Indian party

Last updated on: February 26, 2011 16:37 IST

'Huge game for us'

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They maybe rated as the underdogs, but England on their day are certainly capable of upsetting the top teams, believes captain Andrew Strauss.

- England pacers looking to surprise India with bouncers

The visitors will face a big test of their credentials when they face-off against hosts and title favourite India at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, on Sunday.

And England is taking nothing for granted and believe they have the team to upset India in front of their home fans.

"It is a huge game for us. We would love to spoil the Indian party in Bangalore," Strauss said in Bangalore, on Saturday.

"I think it is one of those games that everyone dreams of playing, I mean playing against India in the World Cup on their home soil. It is a great opportunity for us and we are excited," he added.


Image: Andrew Strauss during a practice session in Bangalore
Photographs: Getty Images
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Big game for Pietersen

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England are pinning their hopes to a large extent on star batsman Kevin Pietersen, who has been promoted to open the innings in the World Cup.

"It is the sort of match that brings out the best in him. Opening the batting will give him a fresh outlook on the One-day game. Probably he will return big runs. He has performed well in the sub-continent and he knows the wicket very well and he has played a lot of IPL games here. Big matches and big tournaments generally bring the best out of him," said Strauss

However, Pietersen has not been in great form in the ODIs format, averaging just 20 in the last two years and it has been early two years since he scored a century in 50-overs cricket.

But Strauss is confident that Pietersen would regain his batting form soon and make important contributions during the World Cup.

"It is not the time to take the pressure off, it is the World Cup. We need to stand up and perform and he knows that more than anyone else. We know what he can bring to our side. He is a match-winning player. I am confident that he will come up with telling performances on the course of the tournament," he said.


Image: Kevin Pietersen
Photographs: Reuters
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Pressure will be on Team India

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The England skipper feels that hosts India are under more pressure than hosts England, because playing in front of the home fans is not an easy task.

"In some ways there is more pressure on India than on us in this game. If we can play good smart cricket and put them under pressure, hopefully pressure will come to the fore," Strauss said.

He said whatever type of bowling attack a team employs, it is important to get the basics right and put pressure on the batsmen and force them into making mistakes.

"The best option is to put it in the right place. I don't think it is complete rocket science, as a pace bowler you have to be more accurate. Definitely we would also be looking for early wickets at the top. The likes of Virender Sehwag can score quickly if they stay. If we can get some early breakthroughs than we can put pressure on the Indian batsmen as there are a lot of expectations on them."


Image: India's Harbhajan Singh stretches during a practice session in Bangalore
Photographs: Reuters
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Toss would be crucial

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Another factor that is giving both the teams a bit of headache is the pitch. With the weather having changed drastically over the last couple of days that saw a spell of heavy rain on Friday evening, no one is quite sure as to how the 22-yard track will behave.

"We had a look yesterday before the rain and we need another look. There are conflicting reports on how the wicket would play. Some say the ball would come nicely and some say the ball would turn. In the warm-up games it turned a little bit. We have to take our side considering the conditions. We will take a final call tomorrow morning," Strauss said.


Image: MS Dhoni during the toss in Dhaka
Photographs: Getty Images
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Smart choice

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That unpredictability has left the visitors confused on what bowling attack to employ, whether to go in with a pace heavy attack or include an extra spinner. The spinners got a lot of assistance at this venue during the warm-up match between India and Australia before the start of the World Cup.

"It is definitely an option if it turns like it did in the warm-up game against Australia. It is important not to assume too much. The weather around at the moment might change the plans. Anyway we have to make a smart choice," Strauss said.

Strauss also showered rich praise on India's veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar, saying his consistency over two decades is exemplary.

"He has been one of the mammoths in world cricket over the last two decades. It is a great testament to him and his preparations. Not many negative words you can say about him. Our job is not to build the Indian players," he said.


Image: Graeme Swann during a practice session in Bangalore

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