England captain Andrew Strauss feels his team have the edge ahead of the Test series against India as they “expect to beat any side at home”.
It will be No 1 versus No 3 in the Test rankings when table-toppers India take on England in the opening Test of their four-match series at Lord’s next week.
With both teams heading into the opener on the back of relatively easy 1-0 series victories [England beat Sri Lanka and India saw off the West Indies], it is difficult to know who will have the upper hand come Thursday.
Strauss, though, believes his team will start the series, which he believes is on par with the Ashes, on the front foot due to home ground advantage.
“This is certainly up there with the challenge to win the Ashes,” the left-handed opener said.
“But I think the one thing we have in our advantage (compared to) the Ashes is we’ve got home advantage. We expect to beat any side at home – and so you should – because it is a substantial advantage.
“But you only have to look at what India have done in the last two years to know India will be incredibly confident. They have a lot of good players and are heavily motivated to win this series.”
Strauss added: “We will have to be at our best if we want to compete with them.
“We’re under no illusions about that – but that excites us.
“In international cricket, you always need challenges and this one excites us.”
One player England’s bowlers will look to keep quiet is Sachin Tendulkar as the 37-year-old Indian legend is stuck on 99 international centuries – 51 Test tons and 48 ODI hundreds.
Strauss hopes the Little Master’s search for another century continues, but says they won’t just focus on him as India boast a quality batting line-up.
He said: “The longer it goes on, that he is on 99, the better. We know what a quality player Sachin is. You only have to look at his record to see that.
“We are not focusing on him. He will get just as much or as little attention as any one of their other players because they have quality from one to 11.
“They are not a one-trick pony by any means. There are going to be some challenges there for our bowlers. They have a very good batting line-up.”
“I’m excited about this series. It will be a great test of us as a side and one we’re capable of passing.
“We’re all going to be very motivated, me more than most, and hopefully that will equate to some good scores.
“I think the side is better equipped than in 2007 (when England lost to India).”
* Strauss was speaking at a track day organised by Jaguar, official car supplier to the England cricket team. Cricket365