Cook revels in England triumph
Alastair Cook was understandably delighted after leading England to a convincing win over Pakistan in the opening one-day international at Abu Dhabi.
Cook compiled a wonderful 137 - his best one-day international score and the highest in that format at this venue - to help the tourists to 260 for seven, a total that proved well beyond Pakistan as they subsided to 130 all out after Steven Finn’s four-wicket new-ball burst.
England had endured a difficult time of things in the United Arab Emirates prior to today’s match, losing the Test rubber 3-0 with a series of below-par batting displays.
Cook said: “It’s always good to start off the series well, and to play close to our potential - which I don’t think we’ve done on this tour - is really pleasing. I thought one to 11 today were outstanding.
“We all know the fickle world of cricket. In the summer when things were going really well, everyone was on your side.
“Then you have a bad tour ... but as I’ve always said, as captain, you’re judged by results - and we didn’t play very well (in India), and I take responsibility.
“But it was a really good day for the side. We did need the win on tour, and it was great to be able to contribute to it.”
Cook reflected modestly on his own substantial contribution, preferring instead to highlight the efforts of Finn and Ravi Bopara, who chipped in with a valuable half-century after spinner Shahid Afridi had bowled Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott with successive deliveries.
“They took seven wickets with spinners, but I was pleased with the way we managed to keep scoring boundaries off them and rotate the strike,” Cook said.
“I thought the way Ravi played, handled the pressure, when we lost those two quick wickets was a real key moment - because if we’d lost another couple of wickets it would have been ‘here we go again’.
“The way he stood up, I thought, was fantastic - soaked up the pressure and then accelerated nicely.
“He hadn’t played a game since October. You can have as many nets as you want, but there’s nothing like the middle. That was a really big knock for Ravi, and I hope he can build on that and play some really important innings for us - because we know how talented he is.
“Finny put a great new-ball spell in there. At 40 for four after 10 overs, it’s never over - with Afridi coming in at eight - but that was outstanding bowling.
“It felt quick out there, and he got some really good players out. It shows the strength of our bowlers that he can’t get in the Test team - at the moment.
“But if you keep pushing and putting in performances like that and bowl as well as he did there, that’s all he can do.”
Cook was accompanied by Pietersen at the top of the order and, despite the latter struggling with 14 from 36 balls, the captain was encouraged with the way the new partnership started.
“I thought we got off to a really good start as a partnership,” he added.
“Sometimes one person gets off to a bit of a flier, and the other one doesn’t. There’ll be other times when he does and I don’t. We put on 50 for the first wicket.”
Younus Khan was among Finn’s victims and was full of praise for England’s clinical performance.
He said: “It wasn’t difficult to chase , but the way they bowled the first 10 overs they outclassed us.
“Cook played a wonderful knock and was very positive right from the start. Bopara played [well] after a long time, and then Finn bowled very well.
“He was fantastic and looked a much-improved bowler since we last played him. He bowled with aggression and never gave an easy ball.”