The comprehensive defeat in the first Test notwithstanding, England skipper Alastair Cook on Thursday sounded optimistic about turning around his team’s fortunes in the second match against India, starting in Mumbai on Friday.
“Clearly it was tough on confidence when you get beaten in a heavy manner. The beauty of the game is such quick turn around. Now we have got the chance and the opportunity to try and put it right. That is what we will have to do. We have to try and learn from last week and play well,” Cook said.
Left-handed opener, Cook, was among the few from the touring party to come out of the disastrous first Test with his head held high, scoring a marathon 176 in the second innings, which kept England afloat till the last day.
Cook said he and his teammates have talked about the importance of scoring big in the first innings on Indian pitches. They were bowled out for 191 on a dusty Motera track in Ahmedabad.
“The first innings run is vital. We know that. I spoke about it when we lost the game and I have been speaking about it ever since. We know how important that is. We have got an opportunity now and a brand new situation. Whether you win or lose, you start on a level playing field straight away. We are going to try and use that to our advantage.
“We have good players. We have some world class players with fantastic records. We have to hold our hands up in these conditions, we haven’t played well enough. There is no one else to blame,” he said in the pre-match press conference.
Though reluctant to name the playing XI, with Ian Bell not available having returned home for personal reasons, Cook said the aim was to pick a team that could trouble the hosts.
“I am not going to name the team now. But we will try and pick a team that will trouble (India). Ian Bell is not with us. We are going to miss his experience but it gives someone else the opportunity to show the selectors and show us what he can do. He has got an opportunity to grasp and if he takes it then there is competition for the place.”
“I am confident. The guys have done in it the past. There are a couple of guys with slightly more experience and scored hundreds in the sub-continent conditions and youngsters have the opportunity to do that. We know that if we want to win this game, we need to score runs,” Cook remarked.
On Stuart Broad’s Twitter banter with Ian Botham distracting the team, Cook said the vice-captain as well as the others are totally focused on the game ahead.
“I am concerned about what happened last game and I am concerned that we learn from that and we improve on the field.
Every player has slightly different ways to cope with the media, but I know when we train today we will be focused.”
Cook also sprang to the defense of star batsman Kevin Pietersen who flopped at Ahmedabad in his comeback game.
“Kevin Pietersen held his hand up and he didn’t perform well last week. You don’t need to tell him that. He knows that and anyone who has ever written off KP in the past has been proved very wrong very quickly.
“He is a world class players and he has scored hundreds everywhere around the world. Yes he had a bad game, like we all can have a bad game.”
Reminded that England had won against India six years ago at this ground to level the series, Cook said it felt nice to come back to a place where the team had previously won.
“It is always nice to turn unto a ground where you have won before. Not sure how many people played on it. Maybe Jimmy I think. We just lost a game and now (we need) to bounce back.
“This side has a lot of talent. We didn’t perform well and we struggled in the last 12 months but there are very good people who are desperate to try and help turn that around.”
Cook, who is leading the side for the first time in a Test series as regular captain, said he is learning the ropes.
“There are always lessons that you can learn especially as a very new captain. Tactically, and how you bowl at certain times, especially in varying conditions. I have got a huge amount to learn as a captain and I think I will grow into the role as I get more experience. The only way you learn captaincy is by doing.”