By Dave Clark
Alastair Cook admitted it had been a long time coming after England secured their first Test victory for almost a year with flawless display against India at the Ageas Bowl.
The hosts won the third Investec Test by 266 runs and with more than two sessions to spare as Moeen Ali completed his first international five-wicket haul.
The off-spinner took the last four Indian wickets to finish with 6-67 after man-of-the-match James Anderson claimed the first two of six that England needed for victory – the tourists offering little resistance after resuming on 118 for four in pursuit of 445 as they were skittled for just 178.
“It’s been a long time coming to be honest with you – too long for my liking,” Cook told ecb.co.uk.
“The pressure we were under after Lord’s and to put in a performance like that for four-and-a-half days was exceptional. The challenge now is to repeat that at Old Trafford.
“When you win the toss, bat, get 570 and bowl them out, and then bowl them out again for not that many – it was a great performance.
“I can’t fault the lads: the hunger of the batters to go big, the bowlers, I thought the way they banged out their areas for a long periods of time at good pace put them (India) under a lot of pressure. And then Mo Ali came in with some handy wickets and he ended up getting six-for.
Cook was full of prais for Moeen, but emphasized the performances throughout his team in a match they dominated from start to finish.
“He bowled brilliantly,” Cook continued. “He bowled really well – Swanny [Graeme Swann] always said the pressure of bowling a side out when it’s going to spin is really hard – Mo Ali stood up to that and he bowled brilliantly.
“We came into the game with a few of the older guys had not been performing. For Belly to get a big hundred and for Gary to carry on his form really set up the game. Broady and Jimmy were back to the standards we know they can bowl too.”
Debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler came in for praise, with some faultless glove work backed up by a blistering 85 in the first innings.
“It was a brilliant knock by Jos – a great situation for him to go into,” Cook added. “He’s very hard to stop scoring.
“The best thing about his keeping was that no one really spoke about it. He’s a very good keeper, (it was) a really great week for him. Obviously he’ll keep going and looking to improve.”
Cook also enjoyed a fine game, with some outstanding captaincy sandwiched between innings of 95 and 70 not out – the first time he has made two fifties in a Test for three years.
But the opener emphasized that the job was only half done, with the series level at 1-1 heading to Emirates Old Trafford.
“The atmosphere on the first morning was brilliant when it was full and then to see so many people to come out today and watch us win. It was a really good test match,” he continued.
“We’ve got ourselves back in the series. It’s a great feeling. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do in the next few games and to see if we can win this series.
“We’ve been in some pretty tough places, playing some good cricket and then losing games in moments. This game we were relentless throughout, that’s the blueprint of the performance. We know it’s not always going to work as well as that but that’s how well this side can play. It’s up to us to see how many time we can repeat that.”
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