England opening batsman Alastair Cook has said that he is quite impressed with the kind of fast-bowling depth India has this time on their tour. Cook, ahead of the series, has said that he has never faced this amount of variety in an Indian attack and even though it remains to be seen how good it can be across a long Test series like this one, it still prompts England to wary of their opposition's young and talented fast-bowling pack.
During a press conference ahead of the first Test, Cook, when he got asked about India's fast bowling, said, “I’ll answer the question at the end of the series, But they seem to have got a good variety of bowlers and pace bowlers, which is probably unusual, and strength in depth in their pace bowling. Over the last couple of years – certainly in the last 10 years I’ve played them – they haven’t had the option of playing five or six different types of seamers. That’s different to what I have experienced in the past but we’ll see over the next six weeks.”
When asked about India's rise to no.1 in ICC Test rankings and what England can do better to reach there, Cook said, “It takes two or three years of really good results and we haven’t had that. The team has been changing as we’re finding out different things about different players and different combinations. You go back to that side in 2011, that was probably the end of two or three years under Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower (coach) playing really good cricket with the same 15 or 16 players.”
Even though, two of India's top order batsmen - Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara - are struggling, Cook still thinks, England must stay focused and try to dislodge them early. He said, “With very good players, form is certainly temporary. The reason they’re very good players is the number of runs they’ve scored in the past over a sustained period of time. You can go a couple of innings not scoring any runs, and suddenly you get a couple away and start to get the rhythm and timing back – and you get a big one. That is the nature of the beast, especially with top-order batting.”
Cook concluded by giving his insight into the Adil Rashid selection debate and said, “The way Adil has been playing and bowling for the one-dayers, it seemed quite an obvious selection. In one sense, I feel a little bit sorry for Adil – all the political side of the selection, rather than looking at him. Sometimes in exceptional circumstances, selection goes a different way than you would like – and obviously, Ed (Ed Smith, chairman of selectors) and the selectors have made a brave call. We’ve got a different style of English spinner, with a little bit of mystery to him, who’s bowling really well.”
(Inputs from Hindustan Times)