Strauss: We're a match for anyone
Andrew Strauss believes England proved they have what it takes to be the number one side in the world after an “outstanding” showing against current top dogs India in the first npower Test at Lord’s.
England lit up the landmark 2,000th Test with a fine team performance, declaring in both innings and bowling out a much-lauded batting line-up for under 300 twice to seal a 196-run victory.
There were standout performers throughout the ranks, including an unbeaten double hundred from Kevin Pietersen and an innings of 103 not out from Matt Prior before James Anderson’s 5-65 on the final day capped a complete bowling performance.
The sides meet again at Trent Bridge on Friday, with the hosts knowing they can replace India at the top of the ICC rankings by winning the four-match series by two or more matches.
“To be number one you have to grab your opportunities and I think we did that very well in this game,” Strauss said.
“It’s the first of a four-match series but we’ve demonstrated that when we play well we’re a match for anyone. Now we just have to play well again.
“We are aware that this is just the opening salvo in the series, but Lord’s is a hard wicket as the game goes on and the performance was outstanding.
“They were five down at tea (on day five) and we had to work very hard to open up an end. Once we did that we finished them off brilliantly.”
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admits his side cannot afford to gamble on Zaheer Khan if the seamer is not fully fit for Friday.
Left-armer Zaheer is India’s top seamer and his new-ball battle against the England openers was thought to be key to the series. He duly removed both Strauss and Alastair Cook in a classy spell before breaking down with a hamstring strain.
Zaheer did not bowl for the rest of the match and the 32-year-old faces a race against time to be fit. However, Dhoni does not intend to risk the same thing happening again.
“We have three days but I am not 100% sure if we will play Zaheer or not,” he said.
“We don’t want to risk anyone if that only increases the chances of him getting injured further. It is very important to get the guys fully fit.
“After Zaheer was injured it was quite difficult in terms of resources but I felt the fast bowlers did a very good job – Praveen (Kumar) bowled really well in the first innings and Ishant (Sharma) bowled well in the second innings. Both of them bowled close to 60 overs each in the Test.”
India will be hoping for an improved showing from their illustrious batting line-up as the series progresses.
Rahul Dravid scored a first-innings century at Lord’s but the combined output from him, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar - who remains one away from an unprecedented 100th international hundred - was well below expectations.
Dhoni blamed an uncertain batting order following an injury to Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar’s illness for the slump.
“Yes, we could have done with more partnerships from the top batsmen,” he said.
“But it was tough for some of our batsmen because most of them were batting in different slots from their original number.
“Rahul opened, Sachin had to bat at a different number, Gautam batted at a different number. That also added pressure. Most of the things that could have gone wrong in the game really went wrong. It was tough for both the bowlers and the batsmen.”