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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

India vs England: Alastair Cook feels India pace pack could make difference this time

England opening batsman Alastair Cook believes India’s depth in the bowling department is something that could help them in this Test series.

cricket Updated: Jul 30, 2018 20:31 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Edgbaston
England's Alastair Cook during a press conference on July 30, 2018.
England's Alastair Cook during a press conference on July 30, 2018. (Action Images via Reuters)

England opening batsman Alastair Cook returns to the scene of his greatest Test innings, a career-best 294 that set the tone for a crushing win over India on the 2011 tour when the visitors lost the series 0-4. (IND v ENG full coverage)

Having quit as captain after India drubbed England 4-0 at home in 2016, Cook looked forward to focusing on his main job in the memorable 1000th Test for the hosts when the series kicks off at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

It was nostalgia initially as Cook was asked to pick his favourite Tests in England’s long journey. As a player it was crushing Australia by an innings in Sydney to wrap up the 2011 Ashes series, and finishing both Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-series. As a fan though it was the stunning win over Australia at Edgbaston in another Ashes series win in 2005.

But it was quickly down to reality as he was peppered with questions about the controversial selection of leg-spinner Adil Rashid despite his refusing a red-ball contract with his county Yorkshire. And what he thought made the 2018 team leg by Virat Kohli different from the past sides, with India having lost heavily on their last two tours since the 1-0 win in 2007.

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“I’ll answer the question at the end of the series,” he started during a news conference on Monday. “But they seem to have got a good variety of bowlers and pace bowlers, which is probably unusual, and strength in depth in their pace bowling.

“Over the last couple of years – certainly in the last 10 years I’ve played them – they haven’t had the option of playing five or six different types of seamers. That’s different to what I have experienced in the past but we’ll see over the next six weeks.”

However, Cook acknowledged that India are the No 1 Test side and that it takes consistency to reach the top of the rankings. “It takes two or three years of really good results and we haven’t had that. The team has been changing as we’re finding out different things about different players and different combinations.

“You go back to that side in 2011, that was probably the end of two or three years under Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower (coach) playing really good cricket with the same 15 or 16 players.”

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Asked about India’s top-order batsmen stuggling, after Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara failed in the practice game against his county Essex, Cook said: “With very good players, form is certainly temporary. The reason they’re very good players is the number of runs they’ve scored in the past over a sustained period of time.

“You can go a couple of innings not scoring any runs, and suddently you get a couple away and start to get the rhythm and timing back – and you get a big one.

“That is the nature of the beast, especially with top-order batting.”

Cook defended Rashid’s selection, pointing out that he was in good form and had worked on his bowling to deserve a call-up, if one kept aside the controversy it has whipped up.

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“The way Adil has been playing and bowling for the one-dayers, it seemed quite an obvious selection. In one sense, I feel a little bit sorry for Adil – all the political side of the selection, rather than looking at him.

“Sometimes in exceptional circumstances, selection goes a different way than you would like – and obviously Ed (Ed Smith, chairman of selectors) and the selectors have made a brave call.

“We’ve got a different style of English spiner, with a little bit of mystery to him, who’s bowling really well.”

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 20:01 IST

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