After that last-gasp loss to South Africa, we needed a good game to bounce back and reinforce our campaign, and the boys pulled it off in style against the West Indies. The wicket at Guyana was not particularly conducive to a high-scoring game, and the fact that we posted a 300-plus total was great advertisement for sticking to the basics.
Of course, the masterful innings that Sanath Jayasuriya played helped matters immensely. I remember saying last year that he is perhaps playing his best ever, and he proved me right once again.
Having said that, it could not have been easy for the West Indies to play four games in 10 days. Such a situation is not ideal, because the team has no scope to iron out the little things that need fixing. In the first match of the Super Eights, they were kicked in the guts by Australia, and then came two more tough games against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. It isn’t easy breaking a losing momentum.
About our match against England, we certainly aim to keep our winning momentum. We are very much aware of what England can bring to the table, in one of the world’s best batsmen Pietersen and a great allrounder Flintoff. They also have an exciting crop of young talent, led well by Michael Vaughan.
The disciplinary problem within the side will probably make them strive harder to prove they are resilient enough to cope with it. As a team, England probably have a finer microscope on the off-field behaviour of their players than other teams — except, of course, India but I think we need to accept that a character like Flintoff will have his moments.
To get back to Wednesday’s game, we have plans in place for every player, and while some would expect us to make special plans for Pietersen, all I would say is that our prime focus will be to get him in early and put pressure. The wicket looks good for batting, and we certainly don’t want Pietersen to take advantage!