'We did not play smart cricket in Australia'
England captain Andrew Strauss feels the team's 67-run win over Pakistan in the final warm-up game is the right kind of confidence booster required after the humiliating 1-6 ODI series loss against Australia.
"We had six good days in Bangladesh. We are buoyed by our performance against Pakistan. We have the full squad with Swann joining us. Everyone is fit and healthy. Now we need to get off to a good start," Strauss said on the eve of their opening group league tie against the Netherlands.
Strauss admitted that England did not play "smart cricket" during the seven-match ODI series in Australia.
"It was a frustrating two or three weeks in Australia. There were injuries at the wrong time. And we did not play smart cricket. The key now is if you want to win the tournament, you have to be consistent. You got to do it as matter of course."
Image: England's captain Andrew Strauss smiles during the nets session in Nagpur on Monday
'I'm very excited to bat alongside Kevin'
Talking of confidence, Strauss also added, "We got back our confidence after our game against Pakistan. We got familiar and comfortable on the basis of our one-day cricket in the last two years. We need to build on those obviously and these group matches gives you an opportunity to do that."
On the much discussed topic of Kevin Pietersen opening the innings with Strauss, the skipper said, "I'm very excited about that. The indications are pretty good. Matt Prior played brilliantly coming at number six against Canada and played a cameo against Pakistan as well. We always felt Kevin Pietersen can prosper at the top on the sub-continent's flat, low bouncing wickets. That is perfect for his game."
More than the left-right combination at the top of the order, it is their contrasting styles that will bother the opposition, feels Strauss.
"We have contrasting styles and that will make it hard for the bowlers to adjust to us. I'm very excited to bat alongside Kevin and I think he can flourish."
Image: England's Kevin Pietersen (left) clowns around as he arrives for a training session with Paul Collingwood
'If we feel the wicket will offer turn, it will be a strong option for us'
Terming Jamtha strip as a "good batting wicket", Strauss said he would not divulge the playing XI and whether Graeme Swann would be included in the playing XI.
"If we feel that the wicket will offer turn, it will be a strong option for us. We will take a call after today's training session," said Strauss.
The manner in which Kenya and Canada surrendered against New Zealand and Sri Lanka on Sunday have raised the debate about letting the Associate Nations participate in the marquee event.
Even Australian captain Ricky Ponting has joined the bandwagon, supporting curtailing of teams for the next edition.
Strauss, however has a different take on the matter.
"It is easy to jump to conclusions after seeing the games yesterday. Let the tournament finish first and then draw the conclusions."
Image: England's Stuart Broad (right) stretches with team-mate Ravi Bopara during a training session in Nagpur on Monday
'Netherlands, Ireland capable of upsets'
Strauss was modest in terming the Netherlands and Ireland as strong associate nations.
"I think Ireland and the Netherlands are strong associate nations. They are surely capable of couple of upsets. If you want to win the tournament, you have to play consistent cricket right through from the group stages to the quarter-finals.
"The first job to do is to make sure to get to the quarter-final stage. You can afford a slip up or two at the group stage but it is better not to," he said.
The skipper was a picture of humility when asked about his take on the quality of Dutch side.
"You can't underestimate Netherlands. They play a lot of cricket now. The side has obvious strengths and we need to give 100 percent. A 10 per cent off and we will be in trouble. A few of them play in English counties and we know their players reasonably well now, can't single out any player."
Image: England's captain Andrew Strauss (left) with coach Andy Flower during a training session in Nagpur on Monday
'It is important we win tomorrow's match'
Strauss also said the senior most player Paul Collingwood under whom England won World T20 in West Indies last year is like "sounding board" for him when he needs any suggestions.
Asked about the pressure to win by a big margin against minnows after Sri Lanka and New Zealand, Strauss said, "We are not looking at it like that. We are not playing against India right now. We are looking at tomorrow's match. More than how we win, it is important that we win it.
"Obviously, Netherlands have nothing to lose. We need to play smart cricket. We are going to play against India next week and we need to make sure that we play smart cricket."
Image: Matt Prior at a net session
Photographs: Getty Images