Cook delighted to see plan bear fruit
Alastair Cook was thrilled England’s batsmen were able to put into practice what they had aimed to before the one-day internationals with Pakistan.
Cook was today able to reflect on just that, after Kevin Pietersen emulated his back-to-back hundreds in the 4-0 whitewash of Pakistan.
Pietersen’s highest limited-overs international score of 130 took England to the brink of the designated hosts’ 237, which they passed with four wickets and as many balls to spare.
“In the chase Kev was brilliant to score a hundred,” Cook enthused. “We talked about one of the top four scoring the runs and in this series we’ve managed to do that.”
“It’s been a really good week and a half for us,” Cook added. “We’ve played some excellent cricket. We came here, Pakistan had an excellent record, I think they’d won 14 out of their last 15 games in one-day cricket.
“So we had a challenge and everyone in that team stood up to that challenge. Everyone can be proud of what they've done in the last week and a half.”
The series scoreline was in stark contrast to England’s last one-day rubber, a 5-0 whitewash defeat in India.
Cook also reserved praise for Craig Kieswetter, who struck 43 in a crucial 109-run partnership with Pietersen.
“KP will take all the headlines for an amazing innings, but it’s great to see Craig come in when we’re 60 for four - in a new position for him - and look as comfortable as he did,” said Cook.
“For him to come in and do that certainly brought a smile to my face as well, because we know we’ve got some good characters in our dressing room.
“After the blip at the start, we showed enough class from KP’s innings and people supporting him to get home.”
Asked what was most satisfying about this sweep, Cook replied: “That is was in sub-continent conditions. When we went to India we didn’t win a game. To turn it around in such a short space was very encouraging for us.”
England were able to complete the 4-0 scoreline despite making four changes today.
Ravi Bopara’s back injury meant an England debut for Jos Buttler and - with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann rested - Danny Briggs also made his senior international bow alongside the returning Tim Bresnan and Jade Dernbach.
Dernbach claimed a one-day international-best 4-45 while Briggs and Steven Finn each took two wickets.
“It’s not often you get the opportunity to change and rotate with the series already won, but the guys who came in obviously had a point to prove," he said.
“I thought Jade was fantastic with the ball and Finny again outstanding as normal, and great to see Briggsy come in and do really well on debut.
While Cook can look back happily on these ODIs, his opposite number Misbah-ul-Haq preferred to concentrate on the three Twenty20 internationals - which start on Thursday at the same venue.
“We have to just look forward and forget the ODI series,” he said. “Today we had an improved performance, but we then could not finish it. But there’s a lot of positives from this game and I think we’ve just got to do better in the T20s.”
Misbah could again face Cook, who has been added to England’s T20 squad as injury cover for Bopara.
“He’s their in-form batsman, so he’s a bit of a concern for us,” Misbah added. “Today we got him out early, and England were under a lot of pressure - even chasing a small total - and Pietersen helped them to just get home.”
When asked about the turnaround from Tests to ODIs, Misbah cited contrasting batting displays.
“We are getting good starts as a batting unit but could not convert them into big scores,” he conceded. “England have improved, and really batted well since the Test series. They’ve started playing the spinners well.
“The contribution from the batsmen at the top was remarkable, to get four centuries. That’s the main difference between the two teams. But Pakistan dropped their performance. In the Test matches, England hardly got 200 in six innings.”