SA`s chokers tag will have no relevance tomorrow: Cook
London: England captain Alastair Cook feels that South African team`s habit of choking in major ICC competitions will have no relevance when the two teams square up for their Champions Trophy semi-final at the Oval on Wednesday.
"It`s another day tomorrow, it`s another game, and what`s gone on in the past has no relevance to tomorrow. It`s whichever side handles the pressure well tomorrow, and people in that side -- in your own side, put your hand up and deliver, and that`s what you have to do in these big games," Cook said at the pre-match media conference.
For the talented England captain, it`s a massive game as they now get a chance to qualify for the final of an ICC event.
"It`s a massive game for both sides. We`ve got the opportunity to go into the final of an ICC competition, and it`s such an exciting place for a player to be. It`s an amazing opportunity we`ve got tomorrow, and I think both sides will be excited."
Cook did admit that the target will be to dismiss opposition`s main batsman Hashim Amla quickly in order to get an upperhand.
"We know he`s (Amla) a fantastic player, but as all players are vulnerable early, we have to try and strike early, and if he gets in it`s a danger for us. Certainly a key man, but if we can get him out, that does put pressure on other players in their set-up."
Negotiating world`s No 1 fats bowler Dale Steyn will be critical to how England can build around a total, feels the skipper.
"It`s a bit like how we played Malinga, how we play Dale Steyn. It`s crucial to building a big total. Obviously, with the new ball, the threat of striking early against us is obviously a danger, and it`s how we play him, and we played him quite well in the past and we have to do that again tomorrow."
Off-spinner Graeme Swann is still not fully fit and that will be a concern for England.
"It's clearly a concern for us. We haven't ruled him out totally yet for this game. We're will see how he trains today and see how he pulls up tomorrow. There's one thing for certain, he won't be risked."
Cook was also not overtly bothered about the fact that the England top-order had come up for some criticism.
"I think the top-order have done their job pretty well so far. We've built good platforms, solid platforms to go on and get big scores. There's always going to be a little bit of hit or miss when you've got to go in and strike from early. And then we've seen Morgs (Eoin Morgan) over the years, obviously Jos (Butler) at Trent Bridge and Ravi here, you only need one of them to come off to get a big total, to put the icing on the cake."
Cook considers Cardiff encounter against the Kiwis as a good test before the semi-final.
"Obviously, I felt Cardiff was a good test to see where we were as a side in terms of having to deliver under pressure. We knew that was the case, and when it's such a shortened game, you can get taken away from what your principles are, what you're meant to be doing."
"You can get distracted from it in terms of thinking, well, I just need to whack it straightaway, and you're right, how calm we were both with bat and ball was very key."
Although it was a tough game but Cook did feel the stress during the business end of the match.
"Well, I won't lie to you, I didn't really enjoy Cardiff, the last 10 overs of that. That was quite a stressful or tense time I think I've had since I've been captain. In terms of a must-win game, I'm sure that'll be heightened again tomorrow."
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