Cook lays down the gauntlet
Alastair Cook has challenged England’s players to show their class in the sub-continent, starting tomorrow when the second Test against India gets under way in Mumbai.
The tourists find themselves 1-0 down in the four-match series having fallen to a nine-wicket defeat at Ahmedabad that was brought about by a disappointing first-innings showing.
England surrendered a lead of 330 as they were dismissed for just 191 in reply to India’s 521 for eight - rendering an outstanding rearguard second time round irrelevant.
Cook and Matt Prior were the stars of that fightback, striking 176 and 91 respectively - yet India still emerged victorious with plenty of time to spare on the final day.
“Last week was tough for confidence, when you get beaten in such a heavy manner,” admitted Cook. “First-innings runs are vital.
“I spoke about it when we lost the game, and we have been speaking about it ever since. We know how important that is - and we have the opportunity now.”
He added: “We have some world-class players with fantastic records.
“We have to hold our hands up - in these conditions we haven’t played well enough to get the results. There’s no one else who we can blame.”
The second Test could well prove a monumental one for Sachin Tendulkar given it may be the Little Master's last at his home ground.
At the age of 39, Tendulkar’s next opportunity of a Test at the Wankhede Stadium will be at least two years away.
Therefore, one of the most enticing prospects for the Mumbai crowd over the next five days will be the possibility of their favourite son adding a 101st international hundred to mark the significant occasion.
Dhoni, however, suspects Tendulkar may yet be back for more before he eventually retires.
“When it comes to Sachin, I think the best thing to do is not to speculate,” he said. “He may come back and play a few more Test matches here. So let’s wait and watch, and enjoy the kind of cricket he plays.”
Stuart Broad was missing from training this morning and is a slight fitness doubt after an England spokesman described his condition as “under the weather”.
With Steven Finn ruled out of the match, the tourists will be desperate for Broad to be at the peak of his powers.
Should there be any deterioration in his condition, Surrey quick Stuart Meaker and Durham’s Graham Onions are standing by.
India are set to be without a paceman of their own in Umesh Yadav, who impressed in the opening Test.
Yadav is struggling with a sore back and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni today confirmed the 25-year-old is “most unlikely” to be risked.
That is likely to provide an opportunity for Ishant Sharma, whose last five-day outing came against Australia in January.