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Strauss keeps the faith

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

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Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss expects England to deliver a much-improved performance when they take on co-hosts India on Sunday. "We generally raise our game against the better sides," said the captain

Andrew Strauss knows England must improve quickly and significantly if they are to prove a match for hosts India in their second World Cup match.

A six-wicket win over the Netherlands came after a ragged fielding performance yesterday at the VCA Stadium, where Ryan ten Doeschate hit a one-day international-best 119 as the minnows posted 292 for six.

England recovered their composure to pass a testing target with eight balls to spare, thanks largely to Strauss’ 88 and 62 from Jonathan Trott, and the captain is optimistic that his side will prove themselves capable of much better when it is required.

“I hope India will take us lightly after this performance,” Strauss said, with half a smile.

“I think we generally raise our game against the better sides. We’re very much excited about playing against India in Bangalore.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing atmosphere and a great occasion - and we’ll back ourselves to beat them.”

Among those who acquitted themselves well against the Dutch was off-spinner Graeme Swann, in his first match for more than a month and only two days after flying in from England following the birth of his first child.

Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood, Graeme Swann & Matt Prior

The performance of Graeme Swann, centre, was one of the main positives for England as they recorded an unconvincing victory over the Netherlands in Nagpur

England chose not to deploy a second spinner, on a very good pitch, but may well do so as this tournament progresses.

“It’s certainly an option for us,” Strauss agreed. “We didn’t think that wicket was going to turn very much - and in fact, it didn’t. But Mike Yardy has done a good job for us in the past, so it’s an option against India.

“We’re going to have to think about what the best balance for our side for that game is.”

Strauss was heartened by several individual performances, between the comical and costly slips and drops in the field.

Swann, who took two wickets, and Kevin Pietersen - after sharing a century opening stand with his captain at his first attempt at the top of the order in a one-day international - were given special mention.

“Graeme Swann was excellent, coming back into the side,” he said. “It was great to see him back - both economical and threatening.

“But our seamers need to be a little bit smarter, and we’ll be sitting down and thinking that through.”

Asked about Pietersen, Strauss added: “He got us off to a good start. We put on 100, which is something you always want to do as an opening partnership.

“He hit the fielders quite a lot - I think the short extra-cover must have pretty sore hands - but I think we’ll really see him at his best against the quicker bowlers.”

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