Ram­pag­ing In­dia look to in­crease Cook’s woes

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

A ram­pant In­dia will look to cre­ate his­tory in the fifth and fi­nal Test against Eng­land from tomorrow by pil­ing more mis­ery on Alas­tair Cook in what could be his last out­ing as the tourists’ skip­per.

Af­ter com­plet­ing an in­nings vic­tory in the fourth Test on Mon­day in Mum­bai, Vi­rat Kohli’s men will be­come the first In­dian team to go un­beaten in 18 matches by avoid­ing de­feat in the se­ries finale in Chen­nai. The ma­jes­tic Kohli, who is in the form of his life af­ter strik­ing his third double cen­tury of the year, is no mood to ease up on their be­lea­guered vis­i­tors.

Af­ter putting the out­come of the se­ries be­yond doubt, Kohli said In­dia would now “re­ally ex­press our­selves fully” in Chen­nai and hope to make it 4-0 against op­po­nents who had been some­thing of a bo­gey team.

Eng­land had won their last three se­ries against In­dia, in­clud­ing their tour in 2012 at the start of Cook’s record-break­ing ten­ure as captain. Four years on, Cook’s ap­petite for the job is be­ing in­creas­ingly called into ques­tion and the skip­per him­self has spo­ken of the pos­si­bil­ity of step­ping down while con­tin­u­ing to be avail­able for se­lec­tion as a bats­man.

“If he still feels the same way he did when he started, if ev­ery de­feat hurts him as much now as it did then, I be­lieve he should carry on,” Nasser Hus­sain, one of Cook’s pre­de­ces­sors, wrote in the Daily Mail.

“But if any part of him feels as if he’s tak­ing the job for granted, then he should have a se­ri­ous think about hand­ing it over to Joe Root. It’s not a job you do lightly.”

Af­ter the Mum­bai Test, Cook said he had still to de­cide on his fu­ture but he raised eye­brows by declar­ing that Joe Root-his most likely suc­ces­sor-should be ready to take on the task.

“You start hav­ing ques­tions, of course you do,” said Cook as he was quizzed about whether he wanted to soldier on af­ter 58 Tests as captain. “I think Joe Root is ready to captain Eng­land. He’s ready be­cause he’s a clued-up guy, he’s got the re­spect of every­one in the chang­ing room.

“He hasn’t got much cap­taincy ex­pe­ri­ence but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a very good captain.” Eng­land coach Trevor Bayliss is among those hop­ing that Cook does de­cide to re­main captain, de­scrib­ing the spec­u­la­tion around his fu­ture as an un­wel­come dis­trac­tion.

“I think every­one, to a man, in the dressing room would be dis­ap­pointed if he wasn’t captain,” Bayliss was quoted as say­ing by web­site cricinfo. “But when it’s con­stantly in the me­dia all the time, it’s a bit of a pain in the back­side.”

While Cook con­sid­ers whether to ab­di­cate, his coun­ter­part-dubbed King Kohli by the In­dian me­dia-ap­pears in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent on the throne. He now has a chance of set­ting a new In­dian record for the most runs in a se­ries af­ter scor­ing 640 in the first four Tests, with Su­nil Gavaskar’s 774 on the 1971 tour of West Indies com­ing into view.

Kohli is one of sev­eral In­dian play­ers who have had out­stand­ing se­ries, in­clud­ing spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win who has taken 27 wick­ets.

“The team is ex­cep­tional in terms of in­ten­sity and sit­u­a­tional aware­ness. Every­one has con­trib­uted to the success. This team is spe­cial,” said In­dia coach Anil Kum­ble.

In­dia are ex­pected to be un­changed but Eng­land could bring in an ex­tra spin bowler on a pitch that is ex­pected to turn, with Cook ad­mit­ting it was a mis­take to only pick two spe­cial­ist spin­ners in Mum­bai.

Eng­land will be hop­ing Stu­art Broad, who missed the last two Tests with a foot in­jury, will be avail­able with his stand-in Jake Ball only tak­ing one wicket in Mum­bai.

In­dia (from): Vi­rat Kohli (capt), Mu­rali Vi­jay, Lokesh Rahul, Chetesh­war Pu­jara, Ajinkya Ra­hane, Ravichan­dran Ash­win, Parthiv Pa­tel, Ravin­dra Jadeja, Jayant Ya­dav, Umesh Ya­dav, Amit Mishra, Bhu­vensh­war Ku­mar

Eng­land (from): Alas­tair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jos But­tler, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James An­der­son, Jake Ball, Gary Bal­lance, Gareth Batty, Stu­art Broad, Liam Daw­son, Ben Duck­ett, Keaton Jen­nings. —AFP

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