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‘Job is to put India under pressure’

Graeme Swann, in Ahmedabad, on Wednesday

Ahmedabad: The common assumption is that the Indian spinners will make the England batsmen dance to their tunes. But Alastair Cook, who will lead the England team for the first time in a Test match after being officially appointed as Andrew Strauss’ replacement, has warned against prejudices.

Speaking on the eve of the first Test, Cook, while answering a question on how his team would tackle the Indian spinners, said: “We’re ready, that’s the reason why we came here three weeks in advance... You’re going to lose wickets no matter who’s bowling… In any game, you can read what you want, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We can always deal with what is thrown at us.”

Throwing light on their preparations, Cook added: “All through the tour so far, we have said that we wanted to get used to the conditions... It is for the first time, since the time I’ve been playing, that we’ve had three practice games.

“It has given us a chance to not only test the first XI, but also the other players in the squad. Yes, we’d have liked to face more quality spinners in the practice games, but we can’t control that. We’ve had some excellent bowlers in the nets.”

Talking about spinners, the obvious issue that comes up is that of the wicket. Here’s what Cook had to say about the Motera track: “Wickets change a lot in 24 to 48 hours... On Tuesday, it had looked quite dry. The pitch has been re-laid and so there are not many statistics relevant to the wicket.”

But will the expectations from the home side prove to be a burden for the Mahendra Singh Dhonis?

“There is always a lot of pressure on the home team, but one thing we’ve seen is that they have an excellent home record. History shows that they’ve coped with that over the years. It’s our job to put them under pressure,” Cook said.

For England to put the Indians under pressure, Kevin Pietersen will have to play a key role. Cook accepted that, saying: “As a captain, it is great to have a world-class batsman like him in the team.