Outgoing opening batsman Alastair Cook had words of praise for the Indian bowlers who staged a dramatic fightback towards the end of the first day’s play at The Oval on Friday.
Opting to bat first, England had got off to a good start despite losing Keaton Jennings early as Cook and Moeen Ali looked to build a strong partnership. They did so as well but it was in the final session of the day that the Indian pacers roared back into the game, reducing the hosts to 198/7 at stumps.
Cook, who played a solid 71-run knock had words of praise for the Indian bowlers.
“I thought the way the Indians bowled was fantastic,” Cook, as quoted by Sky Sports, said. “I think I played one cut and one pull shot all day. A lot of credit to them.”
The 32-year credited Mohammad Shami for his fiery bowling despite the latter going wicketless and even remarked that he was happy to be batting at the other end when Shami was bowling.
“It was an unbelievable spell,” said Cook.
“I was facing Jadeja at the other end and quite happy! We found it hard to know which way it was going. One thing Mo (Moeen Ali) did pretty well, yes he was playing and missing, but he wasn’t curtain-railing as much, he was playing the line.”
“There’s sometimes a skill in playing and missing, I know it’s a bit of a funny thing, but he wasn’t moving his hands as much. Sometimes in Test cricket you’ve got to just suck it up and you need a bit of luck,” added the left-hander.
After having endured a lean patch throughout the series, Cook finally got amongst the runs as his classy 71-run knock was the best for England in the first day.
The 33-year old felt that the pitch at The Oval was the most batting-friendly pitch in the series.
“It has been testing batting conditions for both sides with the new ball, but it didn’t nip as much early on here. There also wasn’t as much zip off the wicket, it was a slightly slower wicket. There was a bit of swing as the ball got a little bit older. The ball hasn’t strung straight away throughout the series.”
The long-serving English opener was given a guard of honour by the Indian cricket team and reasoning out his knock which turned out to be crucial for England on the first day, he said, “I think because of the emotion I didn’t want to not get a score. There’s nothing worse than going out and not contributing after all the fuss about the week. I was probably just as nervous as I was anyway.”
“It was very kind of Virat and the Indians but you’re just trying to concentrate on that first ball. The reception I got was fantastic, but it kind of went on a bit and made me even more determined not to get out,” he further added.