Thursday 18 January 2018

Cook proud as England fight back to take series lead

Cook: “We were never leading it – but then, when we got our chance yesterday afternoon
Cook: “We were never leading it – but then, when we got our chance yesterday afternoon" Photo: Reuters / Paul Childs Sportsdesk

England showed captain Alastair Cook a new resilience to beat Pakistan at Edgbaston, and put themselves in with a chance of topping the world Test rankings this summer.

Cook's men appeared washed up after two days of the third Test, and conceded a three-figure first-innings deficit.

But England battled back to prevail by 141 runs and can therefore return to the top of the ICC table for the first time since 2012 by beating Pakistan again this week - as long as India do not win the final two Tests of their series in the West Indies.

Cook is not about to get too worked up about that prospect just yet - he believes England are on an upward curve, but expected world domination to have to wait a couple more years yet.

In the present, however, he was impressed that they did not panic when Pakistan had taken control in Birmingham.

All-rounder Moeen Ali was named man of the match, but any one of at least three others might have won that accolade in a match containing seven England half-centuries - while each of their frontline bowlers took two wickets as Pakistan were bowled out for 201.

A 2-1 lead, with one Test remaining, is therefore a gratifying outcome for Cook.

"It's right up there. . . I was really proud of the way we hung in there all game," he said.

"We were never leading it - but then, when we got our chance yesterday afternoon, Mo and 'Bluey' (Jonny Bairstow) put the pressure on them. Then we bowled brilliantly too.

"We've been very good when we've been ahead - once we've got ahead we've managed to dominate sides. This is the first one in a while we've been behind and fought back."

As for impending No 1 status, Cook will be prepared to play the long game again.

"If we become No 1 at the Oval, that's fantastic - but it will be a bit of an irrelevance, because this side has still got much further to go," he said.

"I wouldn't say we are anywhere near our potential."

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