One of the chief qualities of limited-over cricket is the way in which it compresses and intensifies the pressures which the participants are under, while one of Andrew Strauss's impeccable strengths is the ability to look calm in the field when all logic would suggest that his head should be about to explode. Take yesterday: The greatest batsman the world's seen in many a generation going well on a Bangalore shirtfront with a potent range of supporting actors at the other end, and the job of trying to stem the flow of runs is down to you and your bowlers. That, in a cricket context, is real pressure, but with Strauss it rarely - if ever - shows.
Then, just when you might fancy sitting with a towel on your head for a couple of hours, no such luck. A twenty minute break and it's down to you to mastermind the chase: All but seven an over under lights, with a partisan crowd willing you to fail. So you make a superb 158, the only fault being the fact that you don't quite stick around long enough to assure the victory which should really have been your ultimate reward.
It's difficult to be sure who will take most from yesterday's epic. England should have won and still have form and selection concerns, India's bowling and fielding doesn't look what it needs to be. But, with weeks and weeks to go, there's plenty of time for teams to find form, lose it and find it again. And it still might not be enough.
We rarely use the word 'great' around here, but what we can definitely take away from yesterday is that Andrew Strauss is a very, very, good cricketer indeed, and not just in the game's longer forms.
It's a pretty safe bet that he'll need to show how just how good again if England are still going to be in with a shout when April comes around.
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