January 29, 2002

England prepare for do-or-die encounter at Delhi

Nasser Hussain's England squad has arrived in Delhi knowing that nothing less than back-to-back wins in their last two games can secure a share in the one-day series with India.

Less than a week ago England arrived in Chennai in buoyant mood, having come close to winning the first game before levelling things off in Cuttack. But despite winning the toss and starting well in the next two games, the tourists are now 3-1 down, scarred by a magnificent batting onslaught from Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar which enabled India to take the Kanpur game at a canter.

Andy Caddick
Caddick - ready for the call
Photo CricInfo

The tiring itinerary - England jet off for New Zealand on Monday for another five-match series - means that team changes are likely at Delhi, with wicket-keeper James Foster recovered from illness and Craig White back in the squad after recovering from knee surgery.

Andrew Caddick and Owais Shah have yet to play in a match, and Ashley Giles is in the wings after his one appearance in the first game at Kolkata.

"We will have to look at the whole squad, because there will be some tired people both physically and mentally," said Hussain.

"We're not going to turn things around just like that; we're going to have days like yesterday and we're going to have to work at it.

"I think people got a little bit excited about how well we played in the Test matches and a couple of the one-dayers. People think we should just turn up and beat this lot - but they are a very fine side at home, as yesterday showed."

Despite the scoreline England can mark down some individual successes as pointers to the World Cup. Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff have both maintained the bowling progress they made before Christmas, while Paul Collingwood played a match-winning hand at Cuttack.

"We're not demoralised - it just shows how well we've done so far," Hussain insisted. "It shows what a side we're playing against; it shows how well we did in the Test series and it shows how well we've done to compete in three one-day internationals.

"It just reminds us all of what we were saying a few months ago when we stepped on that flight out here. There was nothing new about that yesterday - I knew all this before."

Meanwhile England fast bowler Darren Gough will, if selected, play his 100th one-day international for England at Delhi. However, the Yorkshireman's mind is more exercised by what has been his most intractable problem of the series - how to get rid of India's master batsman, Sachin Tendulkar.

"We've seen already that if you don't take your one chance with him, he just goes away," Gough admitted. "Some of the shots he played yesterday were fantastic.

"There were two through mid-on towards the end which you can't do anything about - you just have to take your hat off to him and realise you're bowling against the best batsman in the world. No-one else can play shots like that.

Darren Gough
Gough - admiring opponent
Photo CricInfo

"He doesn't get flustered at all - he just keeps going. He's not like most batsmen who are red in the face and sweating after they've got to 60 or 70. It doesn't seem to bother him.

"He doesn't run singles, because he knows he's going to hit a boundary in the next three or four balls. You've got very little margin for error in length and line when you're bowling to him.

"You never give in against him - it doesn't matter when you get him out, even if he's got 130, he's someone you always want to get and that's why it's so disappointing when you think you've got him and it doesn't get given.

"He's a top player and almost a pleasure to bowl at - he's probably the only player I would actually sit and watch bat."

"I didn't really feel I had total control in the last match, which was taken out of my hands by those two playing so well."

England are scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal tomorrow - an experience from which they will hope to draw fresh inspiration in the midst of a frantic schedule.