Alastair Cook hinted about coming back to form…..

If we take out Alastair Cook’s unbeaten 244 at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) last year during Ashes 2017-18, Cook’s horrific winter can be summarised as a total of 153 runs in seven Tests across two series. His Ashes was all about his double century and apart from that, his next best a 39, which he scored in the final Test in Sydney. Talking of the two-Test series against New Zealand, he made only one fifty in the four innings he had batted then.

Without any doubt, the upcoming summer was going to be crucial for Cook. Prior to that, he has played two County matches. In the first one against Hampshire, he scored an impressive 84 but in the match that mattered the most, he had failed. The match against Yorkshire was going to be his last County match before the Pakistan series and it was more crucial for England’s former captain because the opposition had England’s current captain Joe Root. However, to everyone’s disappointment England’s current two key batsmen of England – Cook and Root – were dismissed for a duck each.

It was sure not the start Cook wanted before he could walk into one of the most important summers of his life. Even Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd expressed they were worried about Cook. “He’s looked quite innocuous of late, so this summer is a huge one for him. It’s no good just quoting his statistics and saying he will come good: it’s time he scored some runs,” Llyod said.

While Hussain agreed with Llyod, he also added that it would be foolish to write off Cook until the last day of his cricketing career. Cook made his First-Class debut in 2003 and ever since then the opposition openers have averaged 32; in the same time, Cook’s has been 44. He is one of the rare England players who has played several match-winning knocks in India and Australia. Cook is easily the best batsman England have ever had with 12,000-plus runs and with the opening Test against Pakistan at the Lord’s, Cook added another record to his name. He equalled Australian great Allan Border’s record of 153 consecutive Tests. Both the cricketers are left-handed gritty batsmen, with over 11,000 Test runs and both had captained their respective sides to an Ashes victory. Co-incidentally, they’ve each won a County Championship title with Essex.

After Root won the toss at the Lord’s on Thursday and chose to bat, he soon regretted doing so because England went from 12 for 1 to 33 for 2 to 43 for 3 before Jonny Bairstow joined Cook, who stood on the other end watching the others depart one after the another. Cook began his knock in a bit attacking way. He had 17 runs to his name off the first 15 balls he had faced. That was a rare sight for someone like Cook, whose strike-rate in the limited-overs cricket was just 77.

But then, Cook being Cook, he only scored just one run in the next 29 balls. Pakistan’s bowling strategy sort of back-fired in the case of Cook.In the first session, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Abbas used the nippy conditions to leave England three-down. They bowled fuller length balls along with constant movements. Cook is the most patient batsman of the team, he survived those, while the others didn’t.  Such deliveries need the patience by the batsman to read and figure them out and then play. Meanwhile, according to a few statistics given on the social media, Cook usually leaves 18 percent of his deliveries in Test cricket, on Thursday, the number it was 34 percent. Out of the Pakistani bowling attack, Mohammad Amir has troubled him the most as he has dismissed Cook six times. But, there have been several instances when Cook was dropped off Amir’s bowling too but it was Amir who finally removed the lone warrior before England were bowled out cheaply for 184.

After Cook’s 70, Ben Stokes’ 38 was the second highest score for England that innings. When Pakistan came out to bat before the stumps, Stuart Broad drew first blood by removing one-Test old Imam-Ul-Haq for just four runs. Pakistan went into stumps at 50 for 1, still trailed by 134 runs.

In the recent times, Cook has struggled against super pace and skilful bowling of Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult but when those are not against him, Cook’s knock of 70 off 148 balls, including 14 fours, testified that the man still has the ability to construct important innings for England. It certainly seems a two-way thing – England and Cook both need each other at the moment.

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