England set to dominate after Cook’s form returns

UNDER-PRESSURE England captain Alastair Cook admitted his relief after making a substantial contribution with the bat as England dominated day one of the third Test with India at the Ageas Bowl.

Cook fell an agonising five runs short of a first Test hundred in 28 innings, edging Ravindra Jadeja behind to Indian skipper and wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni as England reached 247-2 at the close.

The Essex opener shared a third-wicket stand of 158 with Gary Ballance, who finished the day unbeaten on 104 – his third ton in five matches since his call-up to the Test match arena.

Similarly to England, Cook has endured a barren run of form but has remained resolute in his desire to continue in the role of skipper despite presiding over a 10-match winless streak.

Cook, who capitalised on being dropped at third slip by Jadeja while on 15, expressed his despair at falling in the nineties but insists runs on the board were absolutely paramount.

“I was desperate to score runs,” said Cook. “I was as fresh as I have ever been and now I feel I have contributed to the team.

“If you’d offered me 95 before the game, I would have snapped your hand off but I’m still frustrated not to get a hundred.

“It’s a long time since I’ve been able to contribute to the England team and that’s what has hurt me more than anything.

“When you don’t score runs, you try to talk about it and lead but if you feel like you’re personally not doing anything, it’s a hard place to be.

“I know I can score runs. To score a 90-odd is a good feeling.”

Cook’s knock took him to 8,257 Test runs, which sees the 29-year-old move to third in the list of all-time England run scorers, passing former team-mate Kevin Pietersen and ex-skipper David Gower in the process.

And while he hopes his return to form can be more long-lasting than a solitary innings, Cook believes it is a significant score and one which could open the floodgates and allow a return to former glories.

“I cannot tell you how much I wanted to score a hundred,” added Cook.

“The support I have had through this period, which I’m not through yet but it’s a little step in the right direction, has been great.

“When you have not scored runs for a long time it is only natural to be nervous and only natural to want it even more.”