NEW DELHI: With their World Cup hopes hanging in the balance England made a disastrous start against South Africa Sunday as India geared up for their Ireland clash desperate to avoid another giant-killing.
In a game they desperately need to win in their bid to qualify from Group B, England slumped to 15 for three against the Proteas in Chennai, losing skipper Andrew Strauss and key batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell.
England won the toss and chose to bat at the Chidambaram Stadium but soon found themselves in deep trouble as slow left-armer Robin Peterson took all three wickets to fall.
Strauss's team have an impressive recent record against South Africa in ODIs but are struggling in fourth place in Group B on just three points after a win against the Netherlands, a tie against co-hosts India and a shock defeat to Ireland.
Strauss said he hoped in-form South Africa, who top the group with four points after wins over West Indies and the Netherlands, would take his team lightly following their defeat by minnows Ireland.
"The great thing about this tournament is you have a chance to get back on the bike straight away," said Strauss.
"It's something as a side we’ve been very good at in the past -- bouncing back when we've had a poor performance. Hopefully, South Africa will treat us more lightly, given we've lost to Ireland."
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is banking on batting strength to counter the threat of Ireland, inspired to victory against England by Kevin O'Brien, who hit the fastest ever World Cup century, in just 50 balls.
The Indian skipper said no team could afford to take Ireland lightly after their superb show against a strong England side.
"There is no weak side in the World Cup. We have memories of getting beaten by Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup and we won't make that mistake again," Dhoni said, referring to India's first-round exit in the Caribbean.
"It depends on each particular day and there are individuals in every team who can score at an amazing strike-rate of maybe 150 or 200 (per 100 balls) and that can change the course of the game.
"The preparation level remains the same and the intensity should remain the same."
Ireland skipper William Porterfield said it was important to put Wednesday's win over England behind them as they prepared for the clash in Bangalore.
"We have to start afresh again as we have got bigger challenges ahead. We have to forget about Wednesday and take the good things about the game," he said.
Porterfield said his team were looking forward to the challenge of meeting joint-hosts India in front of a passionate home crowd.
"It is a special occasion playing India in India and we are looking forward to it. We played before a noisy crowd in Bangladesh, but we were able to keep them quiet for most of the game. We will take a lot from that experience," he said.
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