England need one last push

PA Sport
Alastair Cook's England must raise their game one last time against India
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Alastair Cook's England must raise their game one last time against India

England's hard work has taken them a long way already in India, but they must raise their game one last time to make sure they do their country proud here.

Defeat in the final Test in Nagpur, where a draw is highly unlikely on what is sure to be a spinners' pitch, would be an anti-climax after England's back-to-back victories in Mumbai and Kolkata to take an unassailable 2-1 lead.

A drawn series would, of course, still be a substantial achievement - many experts were predicting a 4-0 defeat after England lost the first Test by 10 wickets - but not the glorious outcome so many supporters crave for Alastair Cook's team.

They stand on the verge of modern cricket history as the first from England to win a Test series in India for almost 28 years - and batting coach Graham Gooch believes it is within their grasp. Endeavour and determination have combined with world-class skill to silence many of their doubters, and Gooch hopes there is more to come.

"Our guys have a good work ethic," he said. "They've taken on board all the help they've been given about playing the turning ball and how to shape their technique - how you can score runs in these conditions.

"Credit to them - they've worked hard since the first training camp in Mumbai - so it's not just turning it round since the first Test. All the work they've put in over a long period of time has now started to show rewards.

"We've got to make sure we carry that on in the next game and perform well there and come away from this country with our supporters being proud of the England cricket team."

England's batsmen struggled haplessly against Pakistan spin in the Middle East last winter, and appeared no better when this tour started in Ahmedabad.

"India were the better team in the first Test," said Gooch. "We made a good showing in the second innings, but once you're bowled out for a low score in a five-day game, you're up against it. It was a good fighting performance in the second innings, Alastair leading it with a big hundred, but it was too little too late."

Since then, it has been a very different story.

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