By Callum Dent
Skipper Alastair Cook admits England need to improve quickly after suffering a 95-run defeat at the hands of India in the second Investec Test at Lord’s.
In pursuit of a victory target of 319 on the final day, the hosts started brightly with half-centurion Joe Root and Moeen Ali taking the score to 173 for four with a fifth-wicket partnership of 101.
But the latter’s dismissal, one of seven second-innings wickets for paceman Ishant Sharma, triggered a collapse that saw England lose their last six batsmen for 50 runs.
Behind in the five-match series and without a win in their last 10 Tests, Cook knows England need to shape up.
The opening batsman told ecb.co.uk: “Obviously when you're building a partnership and trying to get up to 300 you need a bloke to get a big hundred and some support.
“We were building towards it but that would have been a tough chase on that wicket. The damage was done earlier on in the game. It's a tough place at the moment.
“The bottom line is we've been out bowled and out batted by India in our home conditions, that's probably where we are as a side.
“It's a time to really dust ourselves off, look at it and be brutally honest and we've got to come back out.
“The beauty of playing a five Test-match series is you've got the chance to bounce back.”
Moeen and Root looked to be leading England into a strong position at lunch with their intelligent batting.
The hostile Ishant had other ideas, though, striking with the final ball of the morning session to remove Moeen before ripping through the lower order after the resumption to complete figures of 7-74.
The left-hander’s departure proved to be the turning point of the match, according to Cook.
He said: “Yeah, the first two hours of the day, well one hour and 59 minutes - it was a fantastic partnership by Mo and Rooty.
“We felt we had given ourselves a chance. Obviously the last ball before lunch probably took the sting out of us and was tough.
“We then had a bit of a counter attack but it fell away pretty quickly.”
The victory for India was only their sixth in England. They suffered a 4-0 hammering the last time they played in this format on these shores, but Cook believes they are a different proposition this time around.
Cook, whose side head to the Ageas Bowl for the third Test on Sunday 1-0 down in the rubber, added: “We're in a battle now.
"This India side are going to be tough to beat because I think they've toughened up a lot since we last played them in 2011.
“It's going to be a hell of a challenge to turn it around and win some games.”