Cook: I never doubted England
England captain Alastair Cook always believed his side would survive a late, rallying partnership from Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis in their NatWest Series-clinching triumph over Sri Lanka at Old Trafford.
Cook’s side looked to be cruising at 131 for five but a 102-run partnership for the sixth wicket gave Sri Lanka an outside chance of bettering England’s 268 for nine in the deciding fifth and final one-day international.
However, once Samit Patel snared the latter, Sri Lanka lost four wickets in five balls as they were all out for 252 from 48.2 overs to give Cook his first series win as permanent ODI captain.
In a match that saw momentum switch sides several times over the course of the day, Cook thought Sri Lanka’s required run-rate would always force them into taking risks.
He said: “Once we got through that powerplay and they still needed seven and a half an over and we had five overs of spin, I was quite confident. But we needed to get Mathews out without him really doing the damage.”
Cook was named player of the series for scoring 298 runs in five matches at an average of 74.5 to prove he can adapt to the shorter forms of the game after enjoying a prolific run in Tests.
It was the perfect answer to his critics. However, Cook revealed he is not setting out to prove anything and is merely looking to enjoy the satisfaction of winning.
"When you pull on an England shirt, people are always going to have their own opinions,” he said.
"I don't do it to prove anyone wrong. I do it for the satisfaction that we got in that final half-hour of the game, and you can't replicate that. That's why you play the game.
"That's the first time I've had a really tight scenario in my eight games as one-day captain, and I thought we handled it well. I think the most pleasing aspect is the way we fought back from 2-1 down in the series.
"Everyone was writing us off, and we've played well in these past two games in all conditions on spinning wickets and flat wickets.”
Patel replaced Nottinghamshire team-mate Stuart Broad in the only change to the line-up and Cook added that the tall paceman was left out predominantly because he wanted two spinners at his disposal.
Broad took just two wickets in four games, but Cook is adamant he can rediscover his best form.
"We wanted to play two spinners. We picked Jade (Dernbach) ahead of Broady, and that's why we changed it," he said.
"It doesn't mean that Broady won't come back in. It's obviously a tough pill for him to swallow, but his record in one-day cricket is outstanding.
"Just because he hasn't taken the wickets he would have liked doesn't mean he won't be back.”
Losing captain Tillakaratne Dilshan admitted he was bitterly frustrated with his own form over the series. The opener was dismissed for four after pulling Tim Bresnan to fine-leg and made only 17 runs in five matches.
He acknowledged this was not good enough for a batsman of his pedigree. “As a captain, I’m disappointed I didn’t get runs in any single match," he said.
However, he was pleased with his side’s never-say-die attitude and praised Mathews and Mendis, in particular.
“Before Jeevan went into bat, we still believed we can still do a job and Mathews is capable, he’s tried to finish the match – he batted really well,” added Dilshan.
“We had a belief that those two could finish the game but they came very close. They had to take a chance to pass the 260.
“I think we played good cricket; we started badly and we restricted them to 260, (which) is a great effort – great comeback.
“Then again 20 for three and after that, the way (Dinesh) Chandimal batted as a youngster - take the responsibility and bat really well and put the pressure to England’s side again.
“I think we again turned round after a bad start batting but unfortunately we are the losing side and we lose the series.”