England Test captain Andrew Strauss wants his team to keep Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar waiting for his 100th international century in the forthcoming series.
Tendulkar has notched up 51 Test tons and 48 one-day international hundreds in his remarkable career and could achieve the three-figure milestone in the series opener at Lord's next week.
But Strauss hopes to leave the 37-year-old stuck on the 99 mark as long as possible and insists India are not a one-man team.
He told reporters, at a promotional event, “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.”
But Strauss believes England are capable of rising to the challenge world number one side India will provide.
He said, “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).
“We've had a lot of success recently and we're a more competent unit. We're comfortable in our home conditions. We've been progressing every series we've been playing in over the last couple of years.”
“We are going to be required to step up a level over the next four Test matches but we're more than capable of doing it.
“That motivation of playing against the best side in the world is just the challlenge we need at the moment - and one we're more than capable of overcoming.”
India only finished their Test series in the West Indies on Sunday and play just one game, against Somerset, before the first Test.
Strauss wants England to take advantage of any lack of preparation India may find themselves having to overcome.
He said, “We know that most international teams have a short run-in for Test matches. That's just the way modern touring is. The most important thing is, if there are any weaknesses or vulnerabilities or rustiness, we exploit that in the first Test. We need to make sure our operation is as good as possible.
“That first Test match is always the marker to set the tone for the rest of the series and we'll have to play that one well.”