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Cup force with us now, says ton-up Strauss

cricket Updated: Feb 28, 2011 09:56 IST

AFP
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England captain Andrew Strauss said his side's sensational tie with India proved they were a World Cup force to be reckoned with after his superb century so nearly saw the visitors to victory.

England, chasing what would have been a new World Cup winning total batting second of 339, finished on 338 for eight in reply to co-hosts India's 338 all out at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, with Strauss making 158.

His was the first World Cup hundred by an England captain and the highest World Cup score by any England batsman, surpassing Dennis Amiss's 137 against India at Lord's in the competition's inaugural fixture back in 1975.

England's performance was an improvement upon their lacklustre six-wicket opening win over the Netherlands, where Strauss made 88.

"Coming into this game after the Holland performance, it was a great bounce-back and showed everyone around the tournament that we're going to be a force to be reckoned with," said Strauss.

When Ian Bell (69) and Strauss, who put on 170 for the third wicket, fell in successive balls to left-arm quick Zaheer Khan, the match swung back the way of India, who'd earlier seen cricket great Sachin Tendulkar become the first player to score five World Cup hundreds.

England had a poor batting powerplay towards the finish, losing four wickets for 25 runs in five overs.

And it needed tailenders Graeme Swann and Ajmal Shazhad to secure only the fourth tie in World Cup history, as 13 runs came off the final over.

This was the match a World Cup full of lopsided early encounters desperately needed and Strauss said: "We've got to celebrate the fact it was an unbelievable game of cricket -- probably the best advert for the 50-over format you could possibly get."

Strauss has now scored five of his six ODI hundreds in the past two years.

But he was in no doubt Sunday's innings was the best of the lot.

"Given the importance of the game, against India in India in the World Cup, it was obviously crucial one of our players went on and got a big score.

"It was an innings I'm very proud of. It would have been great to have been not out at the end and seen the boys home.

"It was my best one-day knock."

Asked what he told his players during the interval between innings, Strauss replied: "I said 'Lads, that is an unbelievably flat wicket -- we can chase this."

However, he was left lamenting England's poor powerplay performance, saying: "We got ourselves in a position at 41 or 42 overs where we just needed to have a good powerplay, and we were there.

"But these powerplays can affect you both ways -- and unfortunately, it affected us in the negative way.

"Then in the end, we did pretty well to scramble a tie out of it.

"There were some great performances on both sides.

"When we take stock of this game we'll probably both say: 'Look, we've got a point' -- which is an important point -- and go on and play better as the tournament goes on."