London/New Delhi: Captain Alastair Cook recognises the scale of the challenge facing England in their one-day series against India, but is keen to remind his players a similarly imposing obstacle has already been cleared.
England face the reigning world champions in five one-day Internationals, starting from Friday, and will look to reverse recent history where the tourists have lost 12 and tied one of their past 13 fixtures in this country, last tasting victory in April 2006.
But while Cook appreciates the difficulties facing his side, he is also keen to lean on the positives experienced in the recent Test series.
England memorably won the series 2-1, their first such success since 1984-85, to leave Cook cautiously confident.
“India are an incredibly strong side at home in their conditions. England have always struggled to beat them in one-day cricket,” he said.
“But that is similar to the challenge we faced in the Test matches. We hadn’t had a great record (in Tests). This squad is keen to try and change that.
“One way to do that is to put in the same determination to improve our game in those conditions. We have to adapt quickly and hopefully we can do that.
“We can take confidence as a batting unit from the way we played their spinners after that first innings in Ahmedabad Test. The way we handled their spinners, we will have to do something like that in the one-dayers if we are going to win.
“As a batting unit, we can take confidence that we faced these guys and scored heavy runs against them. I know it is a different format but that is one thing I would like the players to take forward. We need to score big.”
There is an element of uncertainty over England’s strongest side going in to the series, with Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott and James Anderson all rested, Stuart Broad (heel) missing the first three matches and Kevin Pietersen back after almost a year of retirement.
The latter’s return is an undoubted plus, not least because his past two one-day knocks for England saw him register back-to-back centuries against Pakistan.
Pietersen is expected to sign an extension to his short-term central contract during the India trip and Cook is clear in his support of a player whose fallout with the powers that be last summer threatened to cut short his England career.
“It is great to have KP back in the one-day side,” said Cook. “I can’t speak highly enough of the way he went about things in the Test series. As a captain, it is great to have a player like him… He is fresh and desperate to score runs for England.
“That hundred in Mumbai was such an important innings… It proved his worth. Hopefully his experience in these conditions is something we can use over the next three weeks."
Pietersen’s return to the 50-over game will be interrupted again when the side visit New Zealand in their next overseas assignment, with Cook confirming the decision is part of the same workload management programme that has seen Trott, Swann and Anderson left behind this month. “We have to look after every player. KP is no different,” said Cook.