Nasser Hussain hailed England's ability to deliver after their nerve-jangling success over the West Indies.
Last Updated: 17/03/11 7:22pm
Nasser Hussain hailed England's ability to deliver after Andrew Strauss' side kept their World Cup hopes alive with an epic Group B victory over the West Indies.
England would have been eliminated from the tournament had they lost in Chennai, but succeeded in defending their below-par total of 243 even though at one stage their opponents were 222-6.
Luke Wright (44) and James Tredwell (4-48) excelled after being brought into the side and Hussain's praise for the duo was only matched by his plaudits for Strauss' captaincy, which he described as "brilliant".
"With this England side you just don't know which way it is going to go. I cannot explain how shell-shocked people are here at the ground because it's [tense] every time with England; they've made amazing viewing," said Hussain.
"It hasn't necessarily been the best cricket of the tournament but they've been by far the most exciting and most interesting team of the tournament.
"I don't think anybody likes 370 plays 330 with batsmen, batsmen, batsmen [dominating]. Ok, there was sloppy cricket on both sides but under pressure for Tredwell to come on and deliver, for Graeme Swann to come on and deliver; some of Strauss' captaincy today was brilliant.
"He was really good. He has had his critics throughout the tournament but under pressure - you lose you're gone - everything he did was right.
"He bowled the spin bowlers straight after the change of ball so that it would reverse later; he used Ravi Bopara that little bit more because he was skiddy and bowling at the stumps.
"Keeping a short leg in for Ramnaresh Sarwan was exceptional captaincy; it would be so easy - and we have criticised Andrew over the winter about being a bit defensive - not to keep him in and miss the chance to get Sarwan caught at short leg; to bring Tredwell on against Gayle, when Gayle looked like he was going to tee off. I think Strauss was brilliant."
England still need other results to go in their favour if they are to progress to the quarter-finals, but Hussain's fellow Sky Sports commentator Mike Atherton explained how the squad is taking inspiration from the 1992 World Cup, when Pakistan came back from the brink of elimination to win the tournament.
"I think within the team there is this curious belief building up that somehow they are fated to do something special in this tournament given everything that has happened," said Atherton.
"If you look at it in cold, hard cricketing logic terms you've got to say they've got to improve a tremendous huge amount to get through the quarters, the semis and the finals because they are still not playing particularly good cricket.
"I sat with a couple of the players by the pool at the hotel and they were kind of saying that it has gone so badly for us in a sense that we could still go through and then you are two games away from the final;
"You can almost kid yourself that you are almost fated to do it and, of course, that can be a very positive force as well.
"I don't think it is a vintage tournament; it is very difficult to pick out an outstanding side. All of the teams that I've seen have got frailties and vulnerabilities and that includes England, but so does everybody else, so England are going to be a very dangerous side for whoever they come up against."