India are incredibly strong at home: Cook
Captain Alastair Cook acknowledges the size of the challenge facing England in their one-day series against India, but is keen to remind his players a similarly imposing obstacle has already been cleared.
England face the reigning world champions in five one-day internationals this month, looking to reverse recent history after consecutive whitewashes in their past two ODI series in India.
Indeed, the tourists have lost 12 and tied one of their past 13 fixtures in this country, last tasting victory in April 2006. But while Cook, who made his international debut on that trip, appreciates the difficulties facing his side he is also keen to lean on the positives experienced in the recent Test series.
England memorably won that 2-1, their first such success since 1984-85, to leave Cook cautiously confident.
‘Struggled in past’
“They are an incredibly strong side at home in their conditions. English sides in the past have struggled there in one-day cricket,” he said. “But that is similar to the challenge we faced in the Test matches. We hadn’t had a great record there (in Tests). This squad is keen to try and change that. “One way to do that is to put in the same determination to improve our game in those conditions. We have to adapt quickly and hopefully we can do that.
“We can take confidence as a batting unit from the way we played their spinners after that first innings in Ahmedabad. The way we handled those spinners, we will have to do something like that in the one-dayers if we are going to win. “As a batting unit we can take confidence that we faced these guys and scored heavy runs against them. I know it is a different format but that is one thing I would like the players to take forward.”
There is an element of uncertainty over England’s strongest side going in to the series, with Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott and James Anderson all rested, Stuart Broad (heel) missing the first three matches and Kevin Pietersen back after almost a year of retirement. The latter’s return is an undoubted plus, not least because his past two one-day knocks for England saw him register back-to-back centuries against Pakistan.
Pietersen is expected to sign an extension to his short-term central contract during this trip and Cook is clear in his support of a player.
‘Great to have KP’
“It is great to have KP back in the one-day side. I can’t speak highly enough of the way he went about things in India. As a captain it is great to have a player like him back fresh and desperate to score runs for England. That hundred in Mumbai was such an important innings that proved his worth. Hopefully his experience in these conditions, with the Indian Premier League as well, is something we can use over the next three weeks.”
England trained for the first time here ahead of Sunday’s warm-up fixture against India A.