India vow to spoil Alastair Cook’s England swansong

India head coach Ravi Shastri during a press conference at The Oval ahead of the fifth Test against England. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2018
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India vow to spoil Alastair Cook’s England swansong

LONDON: Ravi Shastri has promised India “will not throw in the towel” when they face England in the fifth Test at The Oval, which starts today despite having already lost the series.
England’s 60-run win in the fourth Test at Southampton gave them an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match contest.
It also meant India, despite being the world’s top-ranked Test side, have now won just one of their last nine series outside Asia.
The Oval clash has been given added significance by the fact it will be the last appearance before international retirement for Alastair Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer.
But India coach Shastri, who helped his country to a 1986 series win in England, is determined that the tourists spoil the party.
“This is a team that will not throw in the towel,” Shastri told reporters at The Oval.
“It will come out here and look to compete and not be on the first flight home, rest assured that’s exactly what we will do.”
The frustration for India, who earlier this year lost 2-1 in South Africa, is that two Tests in the current series — a 31-run loss in the opener at Edgbaston and the Southampton clash — could well have gone their way, particularly if captain Virat Kohli had enjoyed more support with the bat.
Kohli is the leading batsman in the series with 544 runs at an average of 68, including two hundreds, yet he will end up on the losing side.
“I think you have got to get tough mentally,” said Shastri when asked how India could improve their away record.
“We have run teams close overseas and we have competed. But now it’s not about competing. We have to win games from here.
“The scoreline says 3-1, which means India have lost the series. What the scoreline doesn’t say is that India could have been 3-1 or it could have been 2-2. And my team knows it. They would have hurt and rightly so after the last game.”
England, despite having won the series, face several awkward problems of their own, with uncertainty surrounding whether Jonny Bairstow should remain as wicketkeeper, rather than Jos Buttler, and what that means for their respective batting positions.
It looks as if off-spin all-rounder Moeen Ali, fresh from bowling England to victory at Southampton, will continue to bat at three as he did in the second innings of the fourth Test, thereby allowing captain Joe Root to bat in his favored spot at number four.
The longer-term question of who replaces Cook at the top of the order remains, as does what England should do when James Anderson — who needs just four more wickets to equal Australia great Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 for the most Test wickets taken by a pace bowler — finally calls time on his career.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old left-handed opener Cook, who has scored two centuries at The Oval, hopes to put a run of low scores behind him by defying the Indian attack on a mixed pitch.
“Four-one sounds better than three-two. But if I could play a really good innings that would be fantastic,” said Cook.
He will look to add a final flourish to his tally of 12,254 Test runs.


Mickey Arthur calls on Pakistan to prove India defeat was one-off

Updated 20 September 2018
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Mickey Arthur calls on Pakistan to prove India defeat was one-off

  • Pakistan coach wants improved performance when side next face big rivals India on Sunday in the UAE.
  • Asia Cup now down to Super Four stage.

LONDON: Mickey Arthur is confident Pakistan can bounce back from their big defeat against India in Dubai on Wednesday.
Arthur’s side lost by eight wickets to their arch-rivals in the final clash of the group stage at the Asia Cup, taking place in the UAE.
It came less than 24 hours after India struggled to beat Hong Kong, but Rohit Sharma’s side hit the disappointment of that performance for six to easily beat Pakistan.
Despite the defeat Arthur is sure his side can turn things around in the Super Four stage and go all the way and win the tournament.
“Whenever we go head-to-head with India, I am comfortable that we’ve got a dressing room of players who can stand up to it,” the Pakistan coach said.
“I am comfortable we’ve got a dressing room of players who, on any given day, can win. So I still think it’s a 50-50. Lucky this game was inconsequential in the tournament.”
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (three for 15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (three for 23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Skipper Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in just 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year — the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was not a happy man after watching his Pakistan side soundly beaten by India in Dubai. 


Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday. When they do Arthur will doubtless be looking for a response and for his side to stick to the set plans.
“On a wicket like that you need to strike really if you’re going to defend it. We didn’t strike early enough,” Arthur said.
“We went away from our plans too quickly. We said that our batters batted outside our roles and that wasn’t acceptable. With our bowling, we went outside our plans far too quickly. We wanted to bowl hard lengths, hit the top of off stump.
“It was tough to score then. We did that in the first six, and then (Usman Khan) Shinwari decided to come around the wicket and bowl a bouncer with fine leg up. And from there it just tumbled.
“We’re going to sit down and talk about that. It’s not good enough. We went outside our plans.
“That’s not acceptable. I think there was a bit of panic when they didn’t strike early.”
Also of concern to the Pakistan coach is the form of Mohammad Amir. The side’s main bowler has looked out of form recently and has struggled for wickets since last year’s Champions Trophy win.
“I’d be lying if I sat here and said there wasn’t (any concern about Amir),” Arthur said.
“I had a really good, long hard chat with him last night and I thought he came out and bowled really well. He hit the crease really hard. He ran in well. He’s been decelerating to the crease, but he didn’t do that today.
“He seemed more fluent, there was a little bit more pace there. And I was comfortable (with what he did), he bowled well. 
There is pressure on him, of course there is.”
There was much hype surrounding the clash, as there always is with any India vs. Pakistan match, but once Pakistan’s unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday’s showdown turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd in the UAE. They will all hope that Sunday’s rerun will dish up more drama and entertainment.