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Alastair Cook rules out the possibility of England playing for a draw at The Oval

Alastair Cook © Getty Images
Alastair Cook said the English team needed to be tough on themselves to put up a good performance © Getty Images

London: Aug 14, 2014

England skipper Alastair Cook has said that his side will not be resting on the 2-1 series advantage and will go for an outright win in the fifth and final cricket Test against India at the Oval starting tomorrow.

“We’re not going out there with any other mindset than this is a game to win,” said Cook on the eve of the match. Cook and company humbled the visitors by an innings 54 runs in the fourth Test at Old Trafford and took an unassailable lead in the series. The hosts know that even a draw will help them retain the Pataudi Trophy, which they won after a 4-0 thrashing of India in 2011 but the team is not going out with a defensive bent of mind in the upcoming Test.

“We’ve got to use that in isolation and not think that if we survive this we win the series. We’ve got to go out to win the game,” said a confident Cook. The first Test in Nottingham was drawn, after which India won the second Test at Lord’s by 95 runs and took a 1-0 lead.

But then England bounced back with a 266-run triumph in Southampton and followed it up with another convincing win and Cook is looking to ride the momentum.

“We’ve got to have the mindset we had after Lord’s when it was doom and gloom and we didn’t play very well. We came out fighting when we really needed it. Just because we’ve won a couple of games, we can’t relax just because the atmosphere has lifted a bit around the side. We have to be tough on ourselves and earn the right to put in a good performance,” he said.

The architect for this change in the score-line have been the English bowlers, with James Anderson leading the charge with 21 wickets from four Tests. And he has had immense help from an unexpected quarter with off-spinner Moeen Ali taking 19 wickets in as many matches.

“Moeen has been brilliant. I’ve not seen improvement like that. Even facing him in the nets, the speed he is now bowling and the control, while keeping that dip and spin, is fantastic,” said Cook, praising his part-timer turned lead spinner.

“You can, when you try to increase your pace, lose a lot of that flight and guile on the ball. But he hasn’t done that and that’s a great skill to have. And he’s still going to improve. That’s encouraging. I didn’t think he’d get 19 wickets in the series at the start, but I didn’t think he’d be bowling like this and, now he is, there’s no reason why he can’t take more wickets.”

Meanwhile, Anderson is seven wickets away from Ian Botham‘s all-time England Test-record of 383 wickets. Though if the pace spearhead is unable to get to Botham’s feat in London it will be a long wait for him until April when England take on West Indies.

“It’s an amazing achievement. If he does it in this game, I think it’ll mean England are in a very strong position,” added the skipper.

“He’s the most skillful bowler in the world. And I think that’s a pretty good attribute as a bowler. You saw his guts and determination last week, when he was bowling when he wasn’t very well. That was extraordinary. That pretty much tells me, tells everyone, what a bloke he is and to back it up with his talent and skill means he is a very fine bowler.”

Of course Anderson will be hoping to have his strike-partner Stuart Broad play in this match. The all-rounder suffered a broken nose while facing Varun Aaron in the fourth Test at Old Trafford. But all indications are that he will be playing this Test, albeit with a face mask.

“We think he’s going to be absolutely fine. He batted, he bowled his six or seven overs and didn’t get any pain from it. So we’re expecting him to be absolutely fine, and see what mask he pulls on tomorrow. I don’t know what’s been going on but there have been quite a few masks,” Cook signed off.

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