Shah salutes England batting

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Mark Boucher & Owais Shah

Owais Shah believes England's batsmen have benefited from the freedom they have enjoyed in the ICC Champions Trophy

Owais Shah feels the recent one-day defeat at the hands of Australia left England’s batsmen in a “dangerous place” - and their ICC Champions Trophy rivals are bearing the brunt.

Andrew Strauss’ side struggled in the NatWest Series after their Ashes triumph as they slipped to a 6-1 series defeat against Australia, however they have been resurgent at the Champions Trophy in confidently despatching much-fancied Sri Lanka and hosts South Africa.

For Shah his awesome 98 against South Africa, which helped earn a semi-final place ahead of tomorrow’s final Group B game with New Zealand, included half of England’s new one-day record 12 sixes and underlined his importance in England’s one-day batting line-up.

“I think it is all about state of mind,” said Shah. “When you are quite low in confidence and you start a tournament like this you have nothing to lose.

“You can play with freedom and be determined not to die wondering.

“I think you can be very dangerous when you play like that and the England team is in a very dangerous place at the moment as a batting unit.

“Against Australia it was hard to cope with because we didn’t feel the batting unit was working.

“The likes of Brett Lee bowled really well but we felt we were getting ourselves out instead of the opposition doing it.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Australia - they are a very good bowling unit - but nothing we tried was coming off.

“We were getting caught here, there, you name it, but the way we’ve played, and personally the way I’ve played, we are really in a good space now.”

Shah, 30, had gone 10 one-day international innings without a half-century but exploded into life once he had ended that run in the day-nighter at Centurion.

His transformation was emphasised in moving from 50 to 98 in just 26 balls, five of which were lifted over the ropes.

“I’m not a perfect cricketer, I’m a human being, I make mistakes,” he said. “And then I do something good as well, that’s just part and parcel of playing cricket.

“I never doubt myself, never have done, never will. It was a tough series against Australia and I guess most of us were in danger of losing our places because of the way the series went. This is international sport and you are expected to win.

“When you try something and things are not going your way and the opposition has got momentum it works against you.

“The game of cricket is such that you do need a tiny bit of luck. Things are going our way at the moment. We’re just trying to keep working hard, keep practising the right way and hopefully we will carry the momentum into the semi-finals.”

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