Cook demands better batting after India strike first in series

CAPTAIN Alastair Cook has warned England’s floundering middle order batsmen they must improve if the tourists are to level the series with India in the second Test, which starts in Mumbai on Friday.

Cook said he was “bitterly disappointed” after India clinched a nine-wicket first Test victory before lunch yesterday in Ahmedabad, where his 176 and Matt Prior’s 91 provided England’s only resistance.

Jonathan Trott contributed just 17 over two spells, Kevin Pietersen 19, Ian Bell 22 and Samit Patel 10, and Cook pinpointed a disastrous first innings batting display as the root of his side’s failure.

“We showed a lot of character in that second half of the game,” said Cook. “But when you get bowled out for 190 in that first innings, on a good wicket, is pretty much where we lost that game. It was turning, yes, but runs were able to be had out there, as we showed in our second innings.”

England added only 66 to their overnight score to reach 406, Cook and Prior both falling to Pragyan Ojha, who finished with figures of 4-120 and nine wickets in total.

India needed just 77 to win and first-innings double centurion Cheteshwar Pujara’s 41 sped them to their target, despite the loss of Virender Sehwag (25), who was caught by Pietersen at long-on off Graeme Swann.

It left Cook brooding on defeat in his first Test as permanent captain, having earned a sliver of hope on Sunday with his and Prior’s dogged sixth-wicket stand.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” the Essex opener added. “We had an outside chance this morning. We knew Matty and I would have to do the bulk of the work, but it can get easier later on in the day, as the heat drains the bowlers, and those guys had been out there for a lot of overs. It was a very small chance, but it was one we could have taken.”