Strauss confident ahead of Ireland clash


BANGALORE – England captain Andrew Strauss wants his side to build on their thrilling tie with co-hosts India when they face Ireland in a potential banana-skin World Cup clash on Wednesday. Strauss, who has admitted in the past that England tend to up their game against better teams, saw his side make a sluggish start to the tournament with an unconvincing six-wicket win over the Netherlands.
A rare England highlight in that match was the left-handed opener’s 88 and Strauss was again in superb form on Sunday, making a career-best 158 in Bangalore as the visitors finished level with India’s score of 338.
“It is the sort of chase that gives you a lot of confidence as a batting group that you can chase down anything and that’s important,” said Strauss. But a major concern for England has been the form of senior seam bowler James Anderson, whose 9.5 overs against India yielded one wicket for 91 runs. It was the most expensive World Cup analysis by any England bowler, surpassing Derek Pringle’s 0-83 against the West Indies at Gujranwala in 1987.
“Opening the bowling out here is hard work, and bowling most of your overs in powerplay is not easy,” Strauss said of Anderson, who also bowled 10 wicketless overs against the Dutch for 72 runs. “Jimmy’s got a lot of skills. Anyone who writes a guy of that quality off is pretty naive.” England expect to have Anderson’s fellow fast bowler Stuart Broad available again after he missed the India match through illness and his reverse-swing could prove useful on a ground boasting excellent pitches for batsmen.
Ian Bell, who made 69 against India and shared a third-wicket stand of 170 with Strauss, believes England are finding their feet nicely in the subcontinent.
“It really has kicked everything into gear,” Bell said. “It’s another improved performance from the Netherlands and we can move on now to the next game against Ireland and put in a better performance.”
Ireland, who tied with Zimbabwe and defeated Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup, missed out on the chance to cause fresh embarrassment to a Test nation in their opening match, going down to a 27-run loss to Bangladesh despite restricting the co-hosts to a modest 205. They have several county players in their side and Bell, who has played alongside seamer Boyd Rankin at Warwickshire, said: “These days a lot of those guys are respected on the county circuit.”
Wednesday’s match will also see batsman Ed Joyce playing against England for the first time since he rejoined the Ireland fold following a brief stint with England that ended at the 2007 World Cup where he played against Ireland. Teenage Ireland spinner George Dockrell, set to play in Bangalore on Wednesday, could also follow a similar path.