ANI Photo | “This England side is better placed than any other…”: Cook following Three Lions’ loss to India in Rajkot Test

Former England skipper Alastair Cook said on Sunday that there is still hope for the ‘Three Lions’ to bounce back in the series and the team is better placed than any side in English history to put aside the massive 434 run loss against India in the third Test at Rajkot.
A five-wicket haul by spinner Ravindra Jadeja and top-notch knocks from skipper Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, double centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal and debutant Sarfaraz Khan made England’s ‘Bazball’ brand of cricket surrender to Team India in their home conditions, losing by 434 runs in the third Test at Rajkot on Sunday.
Cook also said that though the figure looks really massive in isolation, the belief of skipper Ben Stokes about winning from any point rubs off to his team.
After the match, speaking to TNT Sports, Cook said as quoted by Sky Sports, “This side is better placed than any other side in England history to park a 434-run loss. In isolation that is an incredible figure but Stokes has this unflappable belief that he can win from anywhere. That belief rubs off on his team.”
Cook also said that Stokes would be practicing to win the toss after losing it in the Rajkot Test.
“I imagine Brendon McCullum will be checking people are okay in themselves and with their own games but there will be no big team meetings. Stokes will be practising heads and tails as if he can win that one, that is probably the most important thing he can do,” he added.
The former skipper said that there is still hope for England and to beat India, they will have to be at top-level.
“You would have won quite a lot of money if you would have said, at the end of day two, that England would lose this game by 434 runs!,” said Cook.
“Going back to that second day, England were 250 runs behind and had only lost two wickets – the way India looked in that evening session compared to what we have just seen today.”
“I still believe there is hope for England. For them to beat this India side they have to be so good for five days, they cannot have periods where they do not play well. They need to be at their top level,” he concluded.
Talking about skipper Rohit Sharma’s century, Cook said that the century was a highly important one for Rohit since he was under pressure after some underwhelming recent performances.
“That was an important hundred for Rohit [in the first innings], because he has been under the pump. In the series so far his captaincy had been questioned, certainly in the first Test,” Cook said.
“There were even a few decisions in this Test where we thought, ‘I am not sure that’s right’, though his reply to that will be, ‘I won by 434 runs’. He responded very well with the bat and, as a leader, you get huge confidence from that,” Cook added.
Coming to the match, the Three Lions while chasing 557 was bundled out for just 122 runs in 39.4, losing the match by 434 runs. Ravindra Jadeja took 5/41, while Kuldeep Yadav took two wickets. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah took a wicket each.
Earlier, India secured a 556-run second innings lead, declaring their second innings at 430/4. Following skipper Rohit’s early fall for just 19 runs, young batters Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill steadied the ship for India with a 155-run partnership for the second wicket, which ended after Jaiswal retired hurt for 104. India ended the day three at 196/2, with Gill (65*) and Kuldeep Yadav (3*).
On day four, Gill and Kuldeep continued to stitch yet another partnership, which ended with Gill heartbreakingly missing his fourth Test ton due to a run-out, scoring 91 in 151 balls, with nine fours and two sixes. Kuldeep also made a solid 27 in 91 balls, leaving India at 258/4. From this point on, Jaiswal resumed his innings with fellow Mumbai star Sarfaraz Khan. Both took the English spinners to cleaners.
Jaiswal scored his second double-century in Tests after scoring his first one in the last Test. A key highlight of his knock was smashing veteran pace legend James Anderson for a hat-trick of sixes. Sarfaraz also scored his back-to-back half-century on Test debut. India ended the innings at 430/4, with Jaiswal (214* in 236 balls, 14 fours and 12 sixes) and Sarfaraz (68* in 72 balls, with six fours and three sixes) unbeaten to form a 172-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Joe Root, Tom Hartley and Rehan Ahmed took a wicket each for England.
Earlier, England in their first inning scored 319 runs in reply to India’s 445 runs in their first inning. Though Ben Duckett (153 in 151 balls, with 23 fours and two sixes) scored the fastest century by an English player in India, no other batter could give him much support. Skipper Stokes (41 in 89 balls, with six fours) and Pope (39 in 55 balls, with five fours and a six) played some decent knocks.
Siraj was the pick of the bowlers for India with 4/84, while Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets each. Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin managed a scalp each, with the latter reaching his 500th Test wicket as well.
In the first innings, after opting to bat first, India put up 445 in the first innings. The hosts were rocked by England bowlers earlier and were struggling at 33/3. Then skipper Rohit stepped up, forming a 204-run stand with Jadeja. Rohit scored 131 runs in 196 balls, with 14 fours and three sixes. Jadeja went on to score his third Test ton and crafted a 77-run stand with debutant Sarfaraz (62 in 66 balls, with nine fours and a six). Useful scores from debutant Dhruv Jurel (46 in 104 balls, with two fours and three sixes) and Ashwin (37 in 89 balls, with six fours) took India to a fine total.
Mark Wood justified his selection with figures of 4/114. Rehan got two wickets while Root, Hartley and Anderson got a wicket each.
Jadeja was awarded the Player of the Match for his all-round performance in the Test match. (ANI)

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