x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Captain Cook looks to Kevin Pietersen for England's turnaround

Change in the opening order to take on the spinners, but Pakistan may also open bowling with Abdur Rehman in first ODI in Abu Dhabi.

Alastair Cook felt comfortable opening with Kevin Pietersen in a practice game on Friday.
Alastair Cook felt comfortable opening with Kevin Pietersen in a practice game on Friday.

ABU DHABI // England will try to put their woeful showing in the Test series behind them when they take on Pakistan in a four-match one-day series that begins today at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Alastair Cook, the captain, said.

Pakistan beat England 3-0 in Tests on the back of superb performance from their spinners, Saeed Ajmal (24 wickets), Abdul Rehman (19) and Mohammad Hafeez (five).

They have been further boosted by the return of the leg-spinner Shahid Afridi, who took five wickets in their seven-wicket win in the warm-up match against Afghanistan in Sharjah on Friday.

Cook, who took over as captain after the 2011 World Cup, suffered a 5-0 thrashing in India, but hoped they would have learned defeat in Tests against Pakistan were forgotten. "It's been a tough five weeks as a Test tour but this is now a different, fresh side and hopefully we can bring that enthusiasm into the game tomorrow," Cook said yesterday.

"It was a while ago [losing to India] but we tried as hard as we could and we came up short against India. There's no shame in that, but there will be shame if we don't learn from that."

Cook hoped his team would better cope with Pakistan's spinners.

"Certainly the one-day game dictates you have to be more positive and we're not going to have men around the bat all the time so it changes your mentality as a batter, it frees you up," he said.

"We've got a good record against Pakistan and have had success against these bowlers before in one-day cricket, so hopefully we won't banish memories of what happened in the Test matches, but you get to free up a little bit and attack."

Cook added that he was excited at the prospect of opening the innings with Kevin Pietersen.

"It went well. I think we got 90-odd together and it felt comfortable straight away," said Cook of opening with Pietersen during the easy win over the Lions here on Friday. "It's a new challenge for KP - and we both are excited."

Pakistan may counter England's ploy of using Pietersen at the top by opening the bowling with Rehman. The left-armer opened the bowling in a World Cup match against Australia last year.

"Of course we do have plan for every game but the main plan is to do our basics well so we are going to stick to that," said Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, who has won 13 of the 14 one-day games he has captained since June last year.

Misbah said they were confident after winning the Tests, but starts afresh in one-days. "We are high on confidence but at times it is also harmful so we have to guard against that," said Misbah.