ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss hailed yesterday’s miraculous six-run victory over South Africa in Chennai as the turning point in his side’s World Cup campaign.
After the humbling defeat against Ireland last week, Strauss’s troops were staring down the barrel of an early elimination when the Proteas ripped through the top order and eventually bowled England out for 171.
South Africa were cruising at 75 for one and then 124 for three but then lost four wickets for three runs. Despite that wobble, Dale Steyn looked set to win the game with a late cameo but Stuart Broad, who ended with four for 15, cleaned him and Morne Morkel up in the space of four balls to confirm a sensational victory.
“It was a huge game for us, because after the Ireland game we needed to show some character,” said Strauss. “The guys dug very deep in the field – and I was delighted for the bowlers, who have been under the pump.
“We had to get on a roll and put them in a situation where there was pressure on and things happening with the pitch.”
Having haemorrhaged runs in their opening three games of the tournament, defending a small total against such a powerful batting line-up represented a welcome shot in the arm for England’s attack, most notably pace duo Broad and James Anderson. Ravi Bopara, recalled to the side at the expense of Paul Collingwood, top-scored for England with 60, but the Essex batsman claimed the man-of-the-match award should’ve gone to the rejuvenated Broad.
“I’m very pleased with the result – but the man of the match should have gone to Stuart Broad,” he said. “I know he didn’t bowl his full quota of 10, but when he did bowl he was a massive difference and made it count.”
England will progress to the knockout stages with one more victory from their remaining group games against Bangladesh and West Indies, and Strauss hopes that after four epics, his side will book their place in the last eight without any more major dramas.
“We’ve been involved in three very tight games so far in this World Cup, and we’re doing our bit to advertise the 50-over format. But we’d like them to be less close than they are,” he said.
Pietersen set to fly home for hernia op
ENGLAND batsman Kevin Pietersen looks set to return home early from his side’s World Cup campaign to have a hernia operation.
Eoin Morgan, who has now recovered from a broken finger which originally ruled him out of the tournament, and Craig Kieswetter, who opened the batting during last year’s victorious World Twenty20 campaign, are the two players England are considering calling up.
It was announced on Saturday that Pietersen needed the operation after the World Cup which will rule him out for six weeks.
The ECB stressed at the time that Pietersen, 30, would soldier on in the subcontinent but a medical report has shown that his condition had worsened with the player complaining of soreness yesterday.
Pietersen has scored 39 against the Netherlands, 31 against India, 59 in the defeat by Ireland and just 2 against South Africa yesterday.
England are expected to apply to the ICC’s technical committee over the next 48 hours to replace Pietersen in their squad.