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Not stepping down from captaincy: Cook

Beleaguered England skipper determined to stand his ground

Alastair Cook has been under the pump for a while now, owing to the lack of runs from his bat and his team’s run of defeats. He was faced with similar questions ahead of the third Test against India in Southampton and he steadfastly stated that he has no intention of stepping down from England captaincy despite his and the team’s woes.

"As I keep saying in every press conference, I'm desperate to carry on - because I love being England captain. It's a huge honour,” Cook said.

"I said when I first took over, 'I just want to throw everything into it' - and until that time where I don't feel as if I can carry on doing it or someone taps me on the shoulder, then that's what I'm going to do."

About his team’s poor recent record, Cook said the most frustrating aspect is not finishing off games from positions of strength.

"The frustrating thing has been that we've been getting ourselves into situations, especially in the four Test matches where we're ahead of the game by quite a long way and haven't been able to force that result.

"We must be doing a lot of things really well. But at the crucial sessions, when we need to stamp our authority to get that win, we haven't managed to take (that chance). It's bubbling under but the longer it goes without a win it becomes harder and harder,” he said.

About his own lack of form, Cook said, “History suggests when I score runs England have a really good chance of winning games of cricket. That is exciting – I love that. There is nothing worse when you don’t score runs than walking back in and feeling you have let the other 10 guys because that is your job as an opening batter – to score runs and set up games. I haven’t been doing that and that is frustrating.”

He said he has been putting in extra time and effort in his batting. “The other day I came down early and had a two-hour hit with Mooresy (Peter Moores) and I was in early today so I am putting in the hard yards and sometimes you don’t feel as if you are getting rewards.

That is why it is such a hard game at the top of the order against quality bowlers –that is why it is Test cricket. Nothing will give me more satisfaction than if I do pull through and score runs because I know how much effort and blood, sweat and tears have gone into it.”

He said he has been hitting the ball well in the nets and now it’s all about transforming that in the performance on the field.

“The last two or three weeks – I know it is just a net – but the ball has been hitting the middle of the bat, the ball is going where I want the ball to be going, I feel as if I am moving well. At Lord’s I battled hard and the two mistakes I made I got out. To me it is not that far away – I just can’t keep saying it – everyone will laugh until I get results.”

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Score line not on our minds: Dhoni

India captain says the 1-0 lead will not dictate terms when picking XI for third test

Going into the third Test against England, India find themselves in the box seat with a 1-0 lead. However, skipper, MS Dhoni, believes the score line is of little importance in a five-match series and it will not dictate terms on what personnel are called upon for the Southampton Test.

“In a five-Test series a 1-0 lead is not really big. So, we will not be looking at the score line yet when making the team-related decisions,” Dhoni said. “We will look at the wicket and play the team that is best on that wicket.”

The Indian captain hinted there will be changes in the playing XI, but kept the specifics under wrap. “People always say, why mend something that’s not broken?” he said. “But when you’re on top and doing well, the others are trying to catch up with you. If you stay at the same position, the others are climbing up towards you. So, we will see how the wicket is and accordingly will field the best combination.”

One thing that was very clear, however, from Dhoni’s words is that Ravindra Jadeja will get a game at the Ageas Bowl, meaning R Ashwin will have to wait for his turn if India continue to field one spinner.

“When he starts being himself while batting, you see he has a lot of talent,” Dhoni said about Jadeja, referring to his 68-run knock in the second innings of the Lord’s Test. “The innings he played at Lord’s will give him a lot of confidence going forward in all the Test matches that he plays.”

Stressing on Jadeja’s importance in the bowling attack, Dhoni continued, “It also gives us the liberty of resting the other bowlers because he will keep it tight from one end, irrespective of whether the ball is turning or not. He is a very vital instrument in our playing XI as of now.”

The captain was also all praise for Murali Vijay, who has batted brilliantly under pressure in the first two Tests. Dhoni wants his opener to stick with the process that got him the knocks of 146 and 95 at Trent Bridge and Lord’s respectively.

“He has been batting really well,” Dhoni said. “What he has done well in this series is that he has left the balls well, which is very crucial. But at the same time he has been positive in that he has not been afraid to drive the balls that are meant to be driven. He has scored those runs and played his shots.

“The important thing for him now will be to capitalize on the start he has got in the first two Tests and not think about the runs he has already scored. He will do well to just be in the present and adapt to the wicket that he is batting on, on that particular day,” Dhoni said.