Cook believes England have the will to win
India v EnglandAlastair Cook’s England will try to clear their final hurdle in India with depleted resources but a collective strength of purpose.
Stuart Broad is already out of contention for the final Test with a bruised heel and fellow seamer Steven Finn’s participation is in grave doubt after scans revealed the source of pain in his lower back as a disc strain.
Cook is nonetheless convinced that what England may lack in fit bodies will be countered by their will to finish what they have started.
One more victory, or even a draw, in Nagpur will turn an unassailable 2-1 lead into series victory, the like of which England have not known since 27-year-old Cook was a babe in arms.
It will be a remarkable achievement, all the more so if it comes to pass without the help of Finn in particular when the final Test gets under way at the VCA Stadium today.
Cook is confident he still has the right men on his side to help make his first tour as permanent captain one to remember.
“We always desperately wanted to win this series and we’ve got an opportunity to try to do that,” he said. “We know how hard we’ve worked over these last couple of games and we’ve got to do it again.” Successive victories, by 10 wickets and seven in Mumbai and Kolkata respectively, have brought England this far, all after a chastening opening defeat in Ahmedabad.
“I don’t think they’ll say it’s been easy,” Cook said of his team. “There is a lot of skill and hard work that’s gone into it.
“I’ve got to ask the guys from one to 11 in the lucky XI who get to play tomorrow to produce that same kind of guts and determination we’ve shown in the last two games again.
“We’re here to do a job and that job is still on. We said at the beginning of the series we wanted to win it and we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we’ve got a chance to do that, and we’re desperately keen not to let that chance go.”
Cook must set aside the magnitude of what is almost within England’s grasp to ensure they raise their game one last time. “Always on the eve of any Test match, you’re nervous,” he added. “It’s an incredible situation we find ourselves in and we’ve played some really good cricket to get there.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the character we’ve shown. I think I said after Ahmedabad that if we could play close to our potential we have a chance of winning.
“That last game was a real team effort from everyone. You can’t really fault any of the guys, the way we contributed, and we’re going to need more of that here.”
England will not make a final call on Finn’s fitness until just before the start. But it is hard to believe they will risk, in both the immediate and longer term with back-to-back Ashes looming next year, a premier fast bowler in a two-man pace attack when he has a disc injury.