Centurion Alastair Cook calm despite late collapse
England opener Alastair Cook believes England are still alive in the third npower Test against Pakistan, despite being the only batsman to perform on day three at the Brit Insurance Oval.
Cook came into day three under the microscope after making only 106 runs in eight previous innings this summer but showed outstanding mental strength to make 110.
Without the left-hander's 13th Test century England would have been in grievous trouble as Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal took control in the closing stages.
As it stands, a collapse which saw six wickets tumble for 27 runs in an evening session cut short by bad light left the hosts 221 for nine — a slender advantage of 146.
“It was obviously tough for us in the last session when those conditions came in, it got quite dark under the floodlights and they bowled very well with the reversing ball that spun too,” said Cook.
“A lot of credit goes to Pakistan but it's disappointing to lose six wickets.
“But these things happen, we're 150 ahead and we'll try to eke that out in the morning and hopefully put them under pressure when we bowl.
“When we've got a small total to defend, everyone's going to have to come to the party like they have done through the series.”
Cook was understandably upbeat about his own efforts, as he survived an awkward first hour to rediscover his best form.
“When your top score in a series is about 20 that demonstrates things aren't going as well as they might have done,” he said.
“When you are playing for Eng
land there's always pressure and when you don't perform that multiplies a lot. To respond like that today was very satisfying and showed some character.
“I tried to be more positive, I've had a lot of advice over the last couple of weeks so I tried to go out and just hit the ball, score some runs. I wasn't going to die wondering and that helped my defence.”
Pakistan captain Salman Butt had said after day two that it was the first time his side had put together successive days of good cricket on tour.
Cook's efforts almost broke that run but following the turnaround
after tea, he was pleased to declare it three out of three.
“In the end it was another good day,” said Butt. “It takes just one session, or even half a session (to change things).
“It looked like England made a great comeback in the game and then there was a good session for the bowling side.
“We believed it just takes a good spell, or anyone to put up their hand and bring the side back. Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Aamer did that for us today.”
Butt also credited Ajmal's success to his doosra, a delivery England failed to come to terms with throughout.
“The mystery ball has done the trick for him. Most batsmen find it hard to pick it and even until today we were not always 100% certain in the nets,” added Butt.
“I think he is the only bowler who can deliver the straighter one and the one that comes back a little bit with the same action.”