Cook chuffed to combat criticism

England

Captain Alastair Cook emerged the proud recipient of a redemptive performance, as England assumed command on day one of the third Test against India at the Rose Bowl.

Captain Alastair Cook emerged the proud recipient of a redemptive performance, as England assumed command on day one of the third Test against India at the Rose Bowl.

Cook remains without a century in the longest format of the international game for almost 30 innings, but returned to form with a fighting 95 in Southampton on Sunday.

Consistently publicly criticised by pundits and former players alike, and implored to resign the captaincy in a bid to recover a waning primary role with the bat, the left-hander struck nine boundaries before being caught down the leg-side.

"The most pleasing aspect is that, probably under the most pressure I've ever been under as a player – when everyone is telling me to stop doing it, and it doesn't work, to score runs is a nice place to be," enthused Cook.

"I would have loved those extra five runs – so that, whatever it is, the 27 innings without a century everyone keeps banging on about could have stopped and recounted. But it's just nice to contribute.

"Mixed feelings sums it up – it's frustrating when you're five runs short. But if you'd sat here talking to me 24 hours ago and offered me 95, I would have snapped your hand off. I'm obviously delighted I've got 95, but frustrated I haven't managed to get a ton."

The veteran's vigil would have read considerably shorter – hand slip fielder Ravindra Jadeja held onto a thick edge early in the day. The chance, however, went amiss – and Cook capitalised for 80 more runs.

"I just know I've got to make sure my head position is good, coming on to the front foot. I've never really changed my trigger movements during an innings. That's the first time I've done it," he added.

"A lot more, I was coming at the ball. It is different for me, but it seemed to work. "It was exactly that. The attitude was to make sure at least I go down fighting. I've always fought throughout my career, and sometimes you do need a bit of luck."

The Zimbabwean-born Gary Ballance, meanwhile, struck a telling 104 not out in a score of 247 for two. He shared a superb 158-run stand alongside fellow left-hander Cook after the relatively early departure of opener Sam Robson, welcoming a third Test ton in front of an appreciative crowd.

"It's very, very impressive. That's what struck us when he first came into the England side. He came on tour and was quite a nervous character – now he's found his feet, found his place in the dressing-room, he's settled really well and looks a mighty fine player," added Cook.

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