Strauss eager to face India

England captain Andrew Strauss lead his side to a 5th straight Test series victory, against Sri Lanka Getty Images

By Julian Guyer

Southampton, England: Jun 21, 2011

England captain Andrew Strauss was eager to face India after leading his side to a fifth straight Test series victory, against Sri Lanka, at the Rose Bowl.

Rain, which washed a mammoth 369 overs in three matches, had the last word in what was the first Test ever staged at Hampshire’s headquarters after a downpour at tea brought a premature halt to Monday’s fifth day.

But England won the series 1-0 after an innings and 14-run win in the first Test in Cardiff was followed by a draw at Lord’s.

This result meant England stayed third in the ICC’s Test rankings, with leaders India and second-placed South Africa above them.

However, England will look to put one over India in a four-Test series starting at Middlesex opener Strauss’s Lord’s home ground next month.

It promises to be a particularly important campaign for Strauss, who in four innings against Sri Lanka managed just 27 runs and was dismissed cheaply by left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara on three successive occasions — a worry with India’s attack boasting Zaheer Khan.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of taking on India, they are the number one side in the world, and we hope we can be a difficult proposition for them,” Strauss told reporters at the Rose Bowl.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty significant series. We know India are a very confident side in their own right and are used to winning themselves,” the Ashes-winning captain added.

“We’ve got our home conditions, and we back ourselves to beat anyone in them. But it’s going to be a tough series and will hinge on those important moments and sessions — and we’ve got to make sure we’re able to grasp them.”

Strauss retired from limited overs internationals after England’s 10-wicket World Cup quarter-final thrashing by Sri Lanka and so will not feature in the upcoming one-dayers against the islanders.

Although a Middlesex player, the 34-year-old left-hander is set to take the highly unusual step of appearing for Somerset against India from July 15-17 — the tourists lone warm-up clash before the first Test — because his own county don’t have enough first-class games in the next three weeks.

“Andy Flower (the England coach) and I looked at the schedule in the three weeks leading up to the first Test against India and looked at what opportunities there might be for me to play cricket,” Strauss explained.

“We saw that Somerset had a tour match against India and we decided to approach them and see if they would be willing for me to play.

“It’s been a frustrating series for me, and I’m determined to make sure I come back strong against India. I don’t see any reason why I can’t — but I’ve got to put in some decent work over the next few weeks.

“I’m frustrated. But every Test batsman has times when he doesn’t get as many runs as he likes.” said Strauss, who in his 85 Tests has scored over 6,000 runs at an average of 42 with 19 hundreds.

“Thankfully, from a team point of view, the rest of the guys stood up and made amends for the fact I didn’t get many (runs). But I’m going to make sure I’m on my game for the India series.”

As for his problems against left-arm seam bowling, Strauss said: “It’s not something I’m spending a lot of time thinking about.

“Obviously it’s important with the India series coming up. They’ll have Zaheer Khan, and I’ll do some work on that.

“But the most important thing for me is getting myself in the right frame of mind, physically and technically.”

AFP