First innings will be key: Cook
Mumbai, Nov 22: A lot has been and is being said about England’s batting failures on the subcontinent wickets. The latest fuel that aggravated that fire was their 191-run collapse in their first innings of the current Test series in India. But, with their second innings of 406, England showed they are quick learners.
On the eve of the second Test, in Mumbai, England skipper, Alastair Cook, said his team is prepared to fight back. “The last week was tough for us which it is if you’re beaten in a heavy manner. Now we have an opportunity to make it right. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes in the last week and play better.”
Now, as they aim to get level with India in the series, by winning in Mumbai, England’s area of prime focus is scoring big in the first innings. “First innings runs are vital and we know that. I spoke about it after we lost the game and we’ve been speaking about it since then,” Cook said.
The main reason for England’s capitulation in Ahmedabad was that Cook and Matt Prior apart, none of the England batsmen showed pluck. However, the England captain firmly believes that scoring big runs in the Indian conditions is not beyond his batsmen.
“If we look in our team, we have world-class players with fantastic records. We’ve got to put our hands up. In these conditions we haven’t played well enough. If you watch our net sessions you’ll know how hard we’re trying. We’re doing all right things and it’s now about transferring that in the middle and getting into the rhythm out there,” Cook said.
Since his last minute addition into the travelling England squad, there have been more expectations off Kevin Pietersen than most of his team-mates. As someone who is familiar with the Indian conditions on account of playing in the IPL and one of the better players of spin bowling in the team, Pietersen was touted as the key for England to succeed in this series. But with scores of 17 and 2, Pietersen disappointed in Ahmedabad. Cook, however, is certain it was just an aberration.
“KP held his hand up and accepted that he didn’t perform well last week. You don’t need to tell him that, he knows that. Everyone who has berated KP in the past has been proved wrong very quickly. He’s a world class player and he has scored hundreds everywhere around the world. Yes, he had a bad game and we all have bad games,” the captain said in his batsman’s defence.
With Ian Bell set to miss this Test due to the birth of his first child, England will have to opt for an inexperienced batsman in his place, in either Johnny Bairstow or Eoin Morgan. Cook sees this as an opportunity for the youngsters to seize.
“Ian Bell’s absence gives an opportunity for another guy to come in. We’re going to miss Ian’s experience but when the door shuts on someone, it gives someone else an opportunity to show us and the selectors what he can do. If the young guy coming in takes it and performs, that’s what we want; we want competition for places in the team,” Cook said.
This is Cook’s first full Test series as England’s captain. The 27-year-old admitted he’s still learning the tricks of this trade.
“There are always lessons to learn – especially as a very new captain – tactically and how you use bowlers at certain times, especially in variable conditions. I’ve got huge amount to learn as a captain and I think I’ll grow into the role as I get more and more experience. The only way you learn captaincy is by doing it.”