Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Underdogs to Rely on Talent and Character

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Underdogs to Rely on Talent and Character

Article excerpt

ALASTAIR Cook is confident England are capable of playing the "amazing cricket" required to become the first tourists to beat Pakistan since their relocation to the United Arab Emirates, writes DAVID CLOUGH.

The 'hosts' are unbeaten in seven series here since 2010/11, and trounced England 3-0 when they ventured into the desert for the first time the following winter.

Cook, however, believes England are much better informed after that initial expedition about the task facing them - and he does not mind either that, as before their successful summer Ashes campaign, his team will start as outsiders.

"We're probably underdogs. But that's a great position for this side to be in," the England captain said.

"Not too many people are giving us too much of a chance the day before this series - quite similar to another series we've just played.

"With the talent and the character of the dressing room - yes, we've got to play some amazing cricket over the next 15 days to put Pakistan under pressure, we realise that - but I'm very confident in those guys."

Both teams have already suffered an injury setback, each foot problems - Pakistan's key batsman Azhar Ali out of the first Test in Abu Dhabi today with an infection and England seamer Steven Finn missing too because of a bone stress injury.

Additionally, Pakistan may be without prolific leg-spinner Yasir Shah after a painful back spasm at nets.

Both teams were last night yet to be formally announced, but England are set to give a debut to their legspinner Adil Rashid and will promote Moeen Ali to open alongside the captain.

Whatever the fine-tuning of personnel, Cook is looking forward to being tested here again.

"I'm really excited about what's going to happen," he added. "We have options to go for and a side willing to take on that challenge. "We understand the pressures of playing sub-continent cricket as well - it's a lot slower-paced. You can lose games of cricket in a short space of time. But you have to do a lot of good work over a long period to win games, and the guys are prepared for that."

He has hoarded knowledge from his last trip, but insists history will count for nothing when the battle resumes. …

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