Captain relieved to the handle pressure-cooker

LIAM MORGAN
Last updated 02:21 01/08/2014
Alastair Cook
Getty Images
ALASTAIR COOK: "I don't know what people are going to say but it certainly feels a weight has been lifted compared to if I didn't get any runs."

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England captain Alastair Cook was pleased with the way he handled the huge pressure he felt under to make his first significant scores of the year and set his team on their way to a first win in 11 tests against India on Thursday (local time).

Desperately short of runs and heavily criticised for his leadership in the humiliating second test defeat at Lord's, Cook made 95 and 70 not out as England won the third match by 266 runs to level the series at 1-1.

"I was so pleased that under the amount of pressure I was under on the first day that I was able to get a good score," Cook told reporters.

"I don't know what people are going to say but it certainly feels a weight has been lifted compared to if I didn't get any runs.

"The criticism was scoring runs and we've won and the guys that were questioned before the test match really delivered. It's been a great week for us."

Cook narrowly missed out on his 26th test century but he did pass David Gower to become his country's third-highest run-scorer in tests.

He was badly dropped on 15 at third slip in the first innings but survived, rediscovering the fluency and touch that had made him such a reliable figure at the top of the order before his recent slump.

The victory was England's first in tests since beating Australia at Durham nearly a year ago but, with memories of the Ashes whitewash Down Under and the recent home series defeat by Sri Lanka still fresh in the mind, Cook was keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

"It's only one win and we'll enjoy the feeling, come back to Old Trafford and improve," he said.

"It's a very small step but we were relentless in this game, we never let India off the hook and it was a good a game as you can ask for."

Cook was also indebted to two of his senior players, Ian Bell and James Anderson, who returned to form in Southampton.

Bell made a majestic 167 in the first innings and Anderson took seven wickets in the match but the captain reserved special praise for spinner Moeen Ali who completed figures of six for 67 in the second innings to wrap up victory for the hosts.

Moeen was embroiled in controversy during the match for wearing wristbands bearing the slogan "Save Gaza" but his captain said he handled the situation well.

"It was new for Mo to experience something like that but I didn't notice a change in him at all," Cook said.

"I knew he was wearing them but I didn't know the effect it would have."

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The fourth test starts on August 7 at Old Trafford.

- Reuters

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