'England-India series does not need hype'
Andrew Strauss is a relieved man; at least far more assured than he was a couple of weeks back.
As England's captain, he is definitely under pressure -- India had beaten the hosts the last time they toured. But that pressure has been reduced considerably following his team's recent performances (read retaining the Ashes Down Under and a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka at home).
What further helps the English captain's cause is the fact that the opposition is under pressure as well, with their No.1 ranking at stake.
As a batsman, Strauss can breathe more freely following scores of 78 and 109 not out for Somerset in the warm-up game against India.
The 34-year-old had managed just 27 runs, in four innings, in the just-concluded series against Sri Lanka.
But Strauss did not read too much into his showing with Somerset, though.
"I said my performance for Somerset would be irrelevant in the context of this Test and I stand by that," he said.
"I thank Somerset to have let me play the warm-up game. But Test cricket is different," he added.
Image: M S Dhoni and Andrew Strauss pose with the npower Test series trophy ahead of the first Test at Lord's on Wednesday
Photographs: Getty Images
'India has improved in the last three to four years'
England's captain, aware of the considerable hype the series has generated, said most of it was unwanted.
"I don't think the series needs hype anyways," he said, adding, "Fundamentally, we look to win every Test series we play. And there's nothing different about this series."
He appeared concerned about the starting line-up, though.
"It is a tough decision to drop any of the 12 selected names. All the players selected merit a place in the side," he justified.
Strauss was also aware of India's improvement overseas since their victory in England in 2007.
"You don't become the No 1 Test team without winning Test matches away from home," he explained.
"I think that's the greatest improvement India has made in the last three to four years. We too have improved as a side since 2007. But I don't think India would agree to that."
Image: Andrew Strauss and England coach Andy Flower
'We want to be No 1 not just by ranking, but by perception'
With India's No.1 ranking at stake -- England take the top spot if they win by a two-Test margin -- Strauss stressed that the focus of his side is on long term success.
"There are areas we can improve upon. To be the No.1 Test side is great, but our ultimate goal, whether we achieve it in this series or not, is to be the No.1 team, not just by ranking, but by perception as well," he emphasised."
Strauss went on to admit that getting it past the visitors is easier said than done.
"We aren't expecting them to be under par. We understand the extent of the challenge, but we still back ourselves to overcome the challenge and win the series.
"And that serves a perfect recipe for an entertaining series."
Image: Andrew Strauss