Cook wants to keep heat on India
England captain Alastair Cook insisted there should be no let-up in his side’s approach after they inflicted another defeat on India in the NatWest Series.
Cook’s men survived a tense finish at the Kia Oval to chase down a revised target of 218 from 43 overs and claim a three-wicket Duckworth/Lewis win with seven balls to spare.
Rain truncated the contest 20 overs into England’s reply to India’s 234 for seven, and shortly after the resumption the home side slumped to 133 for five – a far cry from the tone set by Cook and fellow opener Craig Kieswetter in a 63-run opening stand that saw the latter on his way to a 46-ball 51.
But Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan fashioned 60 for the sixth wicket and, even though both departed with the finishing line in sight, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann were on hand to complete the job.
England head into Sunday’s meeting at Lord’s 2-0 up, and Cook is determined to have a the five-match series in the bag when the weekend’s London double-header concludes.
“Winning the series is the target,” he said. “That’s what we came here to do and now we’re another step closer to that.
“It’s a very quick turnaround to Lord’s. We need to recover well and it’s a big game again on Sunday.”
Cook singled out Bopara and Bresnan for special praise, but admitted he is still adjusting to the helpless tension endured by a captain looking on from the dressing room.
"It's always nervy when you're sitting watching and can't do anything about it,” he said. "But it was pleasing the way we handled that pressure towards the end.
"I thought Ravi played very well in a great little partnership with Bressie that saw us pretty much there. But it was nerve-racking.”
Man-of-the-match honours went to India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who arrived in the country to bolster India’s injury-ravaged squad only yesterday.
Jadeja came to the crease with India 58 for five after James Anderson had cheaply ripped out their top order on his 150th one-day international appearance.
Jadeja's final score of 78 came courtesy of a century partnership with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and an electrifying assault of 59 in 31 balls alongside Ravichandran Ashwin. The spin-bowling duo later accounted for five of the England wickets to fall.
“He hadn’t played much cricket coming into the game and was probably very fresh and raring to go,” Cook said when asked about Jadeja’s display.
“We’ve obviously seen a little bit more of him now than we had done so hopefully we can bowl better at him on Sunday.”
Dhoni felt the crux of his side’s downfall came in the opening 10 overs of England’s reply, when a lack of discipline from new-ball duo Praveen Kumar and RP Singh allowed Cook and Kieswetter to bring up 50 from 54 balls.
“Overall for the whole period, whether it’s a 50-over game, a 43-over game or a 40-over game you have to be at your best, he said.
“If you look at the first 10 overs we have given away too many runs. It’s not the first time we have done this and it’s become a bit difficult after those first 10 overs to really put pressure on the batsmen.
“I think it was a very good effort from our lower order, but as a team we need to click together when it comes to all three departments.”