India are determined England captain Alastair Cook remains on the defensive in the first Test at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge starting on Wednesday.
Cook, upon whose leadership officials have staked plenty after ditching former star batsman Kevin Pietersen following the 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia, has now gone more than a year since making the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds.
And with England recently going down 1-0 to Sri Lanka after a 100-run defeat at Headingley, Cook’s tactics have come in for severe criticism with Shane Warne accusing him of being responsible for the “worst day of international captaincy” the Australia great had ever seen during the fourth day in Leeds.
India have made no secret of their intention to target Cook in what will be their first five-Test series in England for 55 years.
“Everyone goes through that phase where they don’t score runs — but because he has the captaincy as well, that might be troubling him a little more,” India batsman Virat Kohli said at Trent Bridge on Monday.
“We would like to keep him under pressure,” added the talented 25-year-old, on his first Test tour of England and in whom so many India hopes have been invested following the retirement of all-time great Sachin Tendulkar.
But one consolation for England is India’s atrocious away record.
India haven’t won an overseas Test since defeating the West Indies in June 2011, a run now stretching to 10 losses in 14 matches including successive 4-0 whitewashes in England, in 2011, and Australia.
If Cook needed a sympathetic ear he could do worse than turn to India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose captaincy during this year’s series loss in New Zealand was labelled “obnoxious” by former skipper Sourav Ganguly.
India’s problems abroad are exemplified by Dhoni’s form, with the dynamic wicketkeeper/batsman scoring just 1,174 runs at an average of 32.61 and no hundreds in 23 away Tests as captain.
With the upcoming series being condensed into six weeks, seamers on both sides face a gruelling schedule.