Mind games begin as Zaheer taunts Strauss

first_imgThe series is still some days away but the banter has started with India pace spearhead Zaheer Khan taunting Andrew Strauss, saying the English skipper’s decision to play for Somerset in a practice match highlights the element of doubt in his mind.Zaheer Khan speaks to Sachin Tendulkar during their tour match against Somerset in Taunton, England, on Friday.”The fact that Andrew Strauss is here playing in this practice game says it all. There is definitely that element of doubt in his mind and he has given me that edge now going into the series,” Zaheer was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.”A guy who wants to come and face a particular bowler who he knows is troubling him is in itself a sign. I feel that as a captain it is not a positive move for someone who is going to lead England.”He has shown the opponent exactly what he is thinking. It has been a good contest between us and as a bowler I’ve always felt that if I can provide that early breakthrough it definitely puts the team in the driving seat so that is my aim on this tour as well,” he added.Strauss made 78 on the opening day of the three-day match between the touring Indians and Somerset on Friday. Talking about the series, Zaheer rejected suggestions that his world number one side is under pressure to prove itself. “There is no burden on our team to prove anything. If we play good cricket we will win matches and then everything else will take care of itself,” he reasoned.advertisement”I’ve got confidence from the previous tours I’ve had here as well as the county season I played, which makes me familiar with conditions,” Zaheer pointed.The Indian pace spearhead said he enjoys bowling in English conditions and expects to do well in the Test series starting on Thursday at Lord’s.”I’ve always enjoyed playing here, the conditions are good for my kind of bowling. Whenever the weather is good it definitely provides that little bit extra for the seamers, which I really enjoy.”This year I’m also looking to do the same thing as in 2007, I will use this practice game to get my body going and get into the zone, then carry on from there,” he said.On whether the series would also be about verbal volleys, Zaheer said, “In the last series you could see how hurt they were when the whole jellybean thing happened because they lost the series.England captain Andrew Strauss made a guest appearance for Somerset during India’s tour game in Taunton. Strauss scored 78. AP”It is up to them how far they want to push it and whether they want to cross the line or not. I am very clear, I want to play the game in the right spirit and I don’t think by doing that they had shown the right spirit of the game.”I want to fight hard on the field and that is the way I will be playing in this series as well. As a bowler I’m very confident and the way things are panning out, it will be a big series and we’re looking forward to the contest.”England to make it tough for Tendulkar Andrew Strauss has warned Sachin Tendulkar to expect a rough ride when the Indian maestro goes in search of his 100th international hundred. Tendulkar will be firmly in the spotlight in the first Test at Lord’s as he aims to reach his landmark century in the 2,000 Test in the history of the sport and the 100th between England and India.Strauss is focused on leading England to a series victory over the world’s top side and promised to pile the pressure on Tendulkar at a ground where he has never scored more than 37.”Clearly he deserves a lot of praise for what he has achieved in the game. But out there in the middle we will be even more determined to get him out cheaply, because of what he has achieved,” Strauss said.”I know our bowlers will look upon it as a fantastic challenge for them – and it is a challenge they are definitely up for. England’s respect for Tendulkar will not prevent them from treating him with the same aggressive intent they would any other opposition batsman.”I don’t like the word sledging but what I would say is we will be trying as hard as possible to make all their batsmen feel as uncomfortable as possible in the middle – and he is no exception to that,” Strauss said.advertisementStrauss does not expect Tendulkar to be sidetracked by his impending century of centuries, yet he lives in hope that he just might take his eye off the ball.”His record at dealing with pressure situations has been pretty good in the past. But if he is five per cent off his game, we need to exploit that. He bats with a lot of calmness, but I’m sure in his mind he would love to get a hundred at Lord’s.- With inputs from agencieslast_img