Cook finds 294 reasons to be happy
Alastair Cook put his disappointment at missing out on a triple century into perspective by expressing his delight with a career-best 294 as England strengthened their already dominant hand at Edgbaston.
Cook batted for 767 minutes, faced 545 balls and hit 33 fours en route to beating his 235 not out in November’s Ashes Test at Brisbane.
Having come so close to England’s sixth Test 300, the opener preferred to dwell on his outstanding achievements, such as beating the previous Test-best here: Peter May’s unbeaten 285 in 1957.
“It’s mad isn’t it how you can be disappointed when you’ve scored 290-odd?” Cook reflected. “I suppose only cricket can do that to you.
“So (there is) a tinge of disappointment but in reality I’m absolutely thrilled that I managed to put a big score together.”
He added: “It’s taken almost 13 hours of hard work to get an opportunity (to get to 300). When you don’t make it you’re going to have a little bit of disappointment.
“You’ve got to look at it in the proper way: that I scored 294 runs rather than the six I don’t get.”
Cook revealed yesterday's efforts, after which he had 182, took more out of him - and a couple of short rain and light delays helped today.
“I felt more tired last night,” he said. “I felt a little bit leggy last night, but today I was fine. Lots of stop/start; it was quite a strange day. I did quite enjoy sitting down when I came in.”
Cook’s vigil was the second-longest by an Englishman in Tests and he explained he was in no hurry after India were dismissed for 224 in Wednesday’s evening session.
“There was such a long time left in game. When you bowl a side out in two sessions you can bat as long as you want and we really wanted to do that,” he said.
“We know the wicket’s not going to get any better; we want to make the most of that when it’s at it’s best.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni employed defensive fields throughout the day, creating a further obstacle to quick scoring.
“The old ball was hard to score off, (there were) quite defensive fields, the pitch was a little bit slow to really dominate,” Cook added.
“I don’t think anyone found it really easy to hit through the line, but we said today we really want to grind out and make sure we that big first-innings lead.”
Cook's dismissal, caught at deep point chasing a wide one off Ishant Sharma, came at the stage when Andrew Strauss planned to declare.
“We wanted to try and have 10 overs at India tonight, around that with a 500-odd lead. But we’ve put ourselves in a very good position in this game,” Cook continued.
India go into day four 451 behind with nine wickets left after Virender Sehwag completed a king pair by edging James Anderson’s second ball to slip.
Despite England’s dominant position – they were able to declare on 710 for seven – Cook stressed that a series victory here, which would knock the tourists’ off the top of the Test rankings, is not certain.
“We’re strong favourites, but again we know that doesn’t make you win. It would be great if it did, but we’ve got a lot of hard work to do tomorrow,” he said.
“The wicket’s still playing well. A lot of people got in today so it can’t be that bad a wicket.
“It’s encouraging to see a bit of turn towards the end. If we keep doing our basics well, be nice and patient, then I think we’ll create nine opportunities.”
India leg-spinner Amit Mishra, one of three bowlers to concede more than 100, was optimistic about his side’s chances of avoiding defeat.
“I am very positive we can do it,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “We have done it before as well.
"We have good batters and it’s a good pitch to bat. I don’t think we would lose this Test. The team spirit is very good and positive.”