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Kieswetter cherishes Strauss alliance

NatWest Series

Craig Kieswetter and Andrew Strauss

Craig Kieswetter will be hoping his and Andrew Strauss' opening partnership can continue to be successful against Australia

Craig Kieswetter believes England have found a winning combination at the top of the order after he shared a sizzling century stand with captain Andrew Strauss against Scotland.

South Africa-born Kieswetter only qualified to play for England in February but has since become a key figure in Andy Flower’s limited-overs strategy.

He teamed with Michael Lumb in England’s recent ICC World Twenty20 success but must now forge an understanding with returning skipper Strauss, who was rested for Kieswetter’s previous ODI appearances in Bangladesh.

Their first test came against a modest Scotland attack in Edinburgh, but a partnership of 121 in just 15 overs, with a combined total of 21 fours and two sixes, suggests it could flourish.

Kieswetter, for one, believes it has the makings of a match-winning pairing.

“I’d like to think I showed him what I can but he’s got to show me what he can do as well,” joked the wicketkeeper after contributing 69 to Strauss’ 61 in a comfortable seven-wicket win.

“It was good to get a win and good to get a nice start at the top with 'Straussy'.

“We batted nicely together, got a good bit of banter going and I thought we dovetailed quite well together.

“We’d like to think we can [continue in that vein]. It was a really good track to bat on but hopefully it wasn’t quite as easy as we made it look.

“Their tactics, keeping the wicketkeeper up to the stumps, were quite challenging too so I thought we did well in the end.”

Kieswetter knows only too well that tougher challenges lie ahead, with a five-match Natwest Series against Australia next on the agenda.

The Somerset man’s only previous experience against the old enemy came in the World Twenty20 final in the Caribbean and, after starring in that encounter, he is understandably confident.

Ajmal Shahzad & Gavin Hamilton

Scotland captain Gavin Hamilton, who struck a measured 48, said: "The most disappointing thing is to get in and not go on"

“It’s nice to get runs and for the openers to get a start sets us up well for the Aussies,” he continued.

“It’s going to give us a lot of confidence for Australia, who are obviously going to play some aggressive cricket as well.

“But we’re happy with where we are at the moment and excited about the next five one-dayers which will be a big test for us.”

Scotland captain Gavin Hamilton, who announced his decision to step down from the role in favour of Gordon Drummond at the end of the match, admitted his side’s total was not competitive.

Having won the toss and taken the crease, Hamilton saw opening partner Ryan Watson fall to James Anderson off the fourth ball of the day.

Hamilton and Durham’s Kyle Coetzer fought back well, with 48 and 51 respectively, adding 86 for the second wicket before England’s spinners shared five wickets to undermine their efforts.

Scotland eventually succumbed for 211, a target that the visitors knocked off with 16.2 overs to spare.

“The most disappointing thing is to get in and not go on,” said Hamilton, who earned a solitary England Test cap in 1999.

“When myself and Kyle were in we were looking at 250, 260 and that’s where we needed to be today because 211 was miles off the mark. With that we were never in the ball game.

“There are good signs but saying that is getting boring because we’re a better team than that. We probably let ourselves down a little bit.”