Cook: England a tougher nut to crack
Captain Alastair Cook believes England have proved they are a different side to the one thrashed 5-0 in India just over a year ago.
Cook’s men were whitewashed for the second time in a row when they played on Indian soil in October 2011, but today sealed a nine-run win in the first one-day international at Rajkot to break a lengthy losing sequence.
Having lost 11 straight ODIs in bilateral series on Indian soil dating back to 2006, an opening stand of 158 from Cook and Ian Bell, who hit 75 and 85 respectively, steered the tourists to a game-winning total of 325 for four.
Man-of-the-match James Tredwell then picked up the mantle with international-best figures of 4-44 as India closed on 316 for nine.
The England skipper was forced to deliver his post-match verdict in surreal circumstances, as the media room descended into pitch black and lasers, fireworks and techno music enveloped the stadium, but his mood was positive.
“If you compare that to what we were doing in 2011 I thought there was a big difference,” he said.
“It is pretty much the same squad we had out here last time when we lost 5-0 so to get an early win proves to them that they can play in these conditions.
“It was important to get a win early doors for the main reason that it gives the lads a bit of confidence. We know it is hard, we know it is tough and different, but the way we fought was impressive and we’ll have to do that again in the next game.”
While England’s batsmen shone most obviously, with Kevin Pietersen, Samit Patel and Eoin Morgan passing 40 in addition to the openers’ efforts, Cook was just as pleased by the bowlers.
On a flat pitch and a pacy outfield it was a day where travelling attacks could easily wilt, but England stuck to their task throughout.
“It was a really good day for England, it was a good batting wicket and a quick outfield so 325 was probably par and I thought the way we hung in there as a fielding unit was great,” said Cook.
“Especially when their crowd get really excited with every boundary, the noise gets louder and louder, but the calmness we showed was brilliant.
“I thought everyone held their nerve even at the end there when it was getting tight, everyone held their nerve and we’ve got to keep learning how to do that.”
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni took some of the blame for his side’s failed chase.
Dhoni blasted four sixes in an aggressive 32, but holed out with 55 still needed to open up the India tail.
New playing regulations mean there can now be a maximum of four fielders outside the ring and Dhoni felt that made the target - which would have been India’s record chase at home - more than achievable while he and Suresh Raina, who made 50, were in place.
“Frankly we should have got that - it was a very fast outfield,” he said in the post-match presentation. “You got value for your shots and if you found the gaps more often it hit the boundary.
“I should have batted a few more overs and we would have got them. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but it was quite easy if me and Raina had stayed.
“I think when me and Raina were batting we had a good chance. But once he got out followed by me it made it very difficult.”