We need to be more consistent if we qualify for QF: Strauss
Chennai: England captain Andrew Strauss is a relieved man that his side are still in the World Cup but warned his team-mates that they have to lift their performance by several notches up if they want to go all the way in the tournament after qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Only South Africa, with eight points from five games, are assured of a berth in the quarterfinals from Group B while the remaining three spots are up for grabs among England, India, West Indies and Bangladesh.
The three spots will be decided after the South Africa-Bangladesh tie on March 19 and India-West Indies match on March 20.
"It was a tough game. We were determined not to return home tomorrow. If we do progress in this tournament we got to be a lot better than we had been. we are not going to hide behind the fact that we won today. We got to be lot better and more consistent," Strauss told reporters at the post-match press conference after his side beat West Indies by 18 runs.
He credited the thrilling 18-run win over West Indies that kept his side`s quarterfinal hopes alive to the togetherness of the team members.
"More than anything, the kind of togetherness that got us through. We have been through some tough times through the winter. We did not want to leave the World Cup at this state. I am proud of the lads," he said.
Strauss said the Chepauk wicket was much better than the one played against South Africa, but hastened to add that it was difficult to bat at times.
"There were periods in the game when batting was difficult before the ball was changed. It was reversing a little bit and keeping low. Obviously, the spinners played a role on both sides. There was the odd ball which was going to do some thing. There were times when the ball was hard it was easy to bat," he said.
"May be we were short by 20-30 runs and clearly there was lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of the bowlers. We were desperate to win. We needed to take early wickets. James Tredwell did an outstanding work getting out Chris Gayle and then three others," said Strauss.
Asked what he thought when Gayle (43) and later Andre Russel (49) were going strong, Strauss said, "I still thought there could be another twist in the tale. We felt something is going to happen always. Graeme Swann got two wickets in an over which completely changed the complexion of the game. We were disappointed after losing the game against Bangladesh. All we could do is to win the game today."
On England winning the match despite the absence of Kevin Peitersen, who had to return home to undergo a hernia surgery, Paul Collingwood and Stuart Broad, Strauss said, "It`s tough when you are sitting outside and taking part in the net practice and waiting for your turn. To bring Luke Wright and Tredwell in a massive game like this was a bit of gamble, but they did outstandingly well."
He also had a word of praise for Ravi Bopara, saying he had an outstanding spell getting two wickets.
Strauss agreed it was the right recipe to go with two off-spinners against West Indies, saying there were several left-handers in the Caribbean side and it helped.
Asked whether it was difficult for him as captain to select the team, he said, "It`s been tough three days. To try and get myself and rest of the guys up after the Bangladesh defeat which hurt us pretty hard. Then, I had to make some tough calls selection wise. None of the guys wanted to go home tomorrow morning. We were motivated to not let that happen."
Man-of-the-match James Tredwell, who finished with 4/48, said he was delighted to get the opportunity to help his side win.
"I am happy that I was able to respond to the call."