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Broad demands better from England

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Stuart Broad & Ben Stokes

Having lost his first game in charge, Stuart Broad, front, is seeking improvement from a team that may feature Ben Stokes, back

Stuart Broad is desperate to improve on his first outing as Twenty20 captain when England face India at Old Trafford tomorrow.

A one-off clash against Sri Lanka at Bristol in June ended in a nine-wicket defeat, with Broad failing to contribute a run or a wicket.

"We didn't perform as well as we'd have liked against Sri Lanka,” Broad admitted today. “We didn't get enough runs on the board; we don't need to look too much further into it.

"It's difficult in these one-off games but it's important we take these opportunities. We want to start tomorrow really strongly, whether we bat or bowl first.

"There'll be a full house at Old Trafford and (India) are a fantastic Twenty20 side, so we've got to be on the money.

"You've got the 50-over world champions and the Twenty20 world champions going at each other. It's going to be an exciting game and the players are really looking forward to it."

Broad is under no illusions as to the task facing England despite India's abject showing en route to a 4-0 whitewash in the recent npower Test series.

He said: "India suffered with a few injuries. That happens on any tour, but they've got a lot of talent around with the young players coming through and any side that can bring Rahul Dravid in is going to be strong."

Broad offered assurances over Kevin Pietersen's fitness after the batsman, who has been rested for the five-match NatWest Series which follows tomorrow's clash, took a nasty blow while batting in this morning's practice session.

"He's fine," said Broad. "He got hit in the throat a little bit but he's pulled up fine."

Pietersen should therefore take his place in a batting line-up which could feature a handful of new faces in Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.

"They're exciting talents, they've had great domestic Twenty20 seasons and they performed well today. It's exciting to have them around," said Broad.

"I know it is a huge test for any player to come up from county cricket into international cricket. That's why we have the Lions system to put guys under international pressure.

"You see guys have that confidence in T20 cricket and come to international games and do really well. We're certainly not picking players blindly. We're excited for tomorrow."

Kevin Pietersen

Broad and company inspect the damage to Kevin Pietersen's throat after he took a blow during practice this morning. "He's pulled up fine," the captain insisted

Broad knows the hard-hitting talents of opener Hales well as a team-mate at Nottinghamshire, although he admits he has only been able to see the likes of Buttler and Stokes on television.

Despite that he has liked what he has seen and pointed to Buttler's man-of-the-match performance as Somerset reached the Friends Life t20 final at Edgbaston on Saturday.

"I've seen them on television in the hotels when travelling around, so I am well aware of what they can do," he said.

"What has shone about Jos Buttler is he can calmly flick the ball over the keeper's head and next ball hit it straight 20 rows back. He showed his talent on finals day.

"Stokesy is a strong guy, a big hitter of the ball. He certainly showed his power in training today, while I know Alex well from Notts.

"He's a tall guy, 6ft 5in, and strikes the ball hard. He has an extremely high strike rate in the Twenty20 format and he's done really well in red-ball and white-ball cricket. He's an exciting talent."

Broad's hopes of claiming his first success as Twenty20 captain have been boosted by India's injury problems.

The tourists’ top order has been hardest hit with Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh having already flown home while Gautam Gambhir will miss out due to the concussion he suffered in the final Test at the Kia Oval.

With Sachin Tendulkar having retired from international Twenty20 cricket that means a stretched India squad are set to turn to the more stoic presence of veteran Rahul Dravid - who would remarkably make his Twenty20 debut.

“You have a few key players who are out for India – the likes of Virender Sehwag who they will miss at the top of the order, Gambhir and some other dangerous hitters," Broad said.

"But we’ll know their replacements are talented hitters who have experience of playing in the IPL.

"We have to be fully aware of that and plan for that. But we’re focusing on what we do well and looking at our strengths."

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