Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rajkot Hard Work So Nearly Pays off; THE MATCH: India V England First Test, Rajkot

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rajkot Hard Work So Nearly Pays off; THE MATCH: India V England First Test, Rajkot

Article excerpt

ALASTAIR Cook believes England's "brilliant performance" in Rajkot proves they have a realistic chance of winning a second successive series in India.

England were denied a victory as India held out on the final evening of the first Test on 172 for six, but Cook hailed the "bloody hard work" his side had put in and congratulated them on an admirably sustained and skilful effort.

England will travel to Vizag on the back of four individual hundreds, Cook's 30th in Tests coming in their second-innings 260 for three declared, and seven wickets from leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

After Cook's 130, and 82 from his new teenage opening partner Haseeb Hameed, in a stand of 180, he was able to set India 310 to win in a minimum 49 overs.

At 71 for four, with almost two hours left to play, they looked in big trouble, only for home captain Virat Kohli to save the day with an unbeaten 49.

Cook appeared exhausted at his post-match press conference, but summoned the energy to praise his team for moving on so evidently from the shock defeat to Bangladesh in Dhaka which prefaced this campaign.

"It was a brilliant performance all round - especially from our three spinners," he said.

"No one was talking of us having a chance in this series, but the way we played showed we're in there."

England's next task is to recover in time for the start of the second Test on Thursday.

"I'm feeling fairly jaded now, and I think the lads are," added Cook.

"Doing 160 overs in the dirt in the first innings is fairly brutal's been bloody hard work, I can tell you that. ... I think we put everything on the line there.

"It's obviously disappointing we didn't quite get over the line, but everyone can be very proud of how we played.

"It's probably proving to everyone else that we can play ... we did a lot of very good things."

Hameed and Ben Stokes received particular mention. The former marked his debut by sharing with Cook England's highest-ever opening stand in India.

"He's an unbelievable player," said the captain.

"He was pushing me close to retirement when we walked off yesterday - a 19-year-old not only outbatted me but scored quicker and made it look easier. …

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