Needing 41 for victory in the third Test England contrived to lose three wickets, including that of Cook, stumped in the first over, on the road to victory but this will hardly dampen celebrations of a second brilliant win in this series. England, 2-1 up, now head to Nagpur for the final Test, which starts on Thursday.
Asked to explain the transformation of England's fortunes – they were hammered by nine wickets in the opening Test – Cook put it down to good, old-fashioned graft. "We've taken what we've been doing in the nets out into the middle and started to perform close to our potential," he said. "In this game our bowlers have been outstanding. To restrict India to 316 in the first innings on that wicket was a great effort and then yesterday when they were 86-0, to put in a session like we did was highly skilful bowling."
The focus of the tour now moves to the centre of India and the city where Cook made his Test debut and his first century six and a half years ago. "Clearly I'd take a draw now if someone offered it to me, but we can't go into the game with that mentality," said the captain. "We have to go in with the same approach we've had for these last two games."
In Kolkata, Cook won the man-of-the-match award for his first-innings 190, his record-breaking 23rd century for England. He would have scored more had he not been freakishly run out while taking evasive action from a ball hurled at the stumps.
Sunday was the first chance to gauge his reaction to that dismissal.
"Dopey is the word that some people used. I just had a brain fade, I won't lie to you. I was walking back and suddenly saw the ball come towards me and my immediate reaction was to flinch rather than put my bat in – I don't know why – but it all happened a bit quickly. I was embarrassed more than anything".
Cook is already focussing on the next match. "The job's not done. It would be nice if we were going home tomorrow and we could all be smiling. But it's not done, and we can't get carried away".
India have reacted to their second defeat by omitting three experienced cricketers from their squad. Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh have been dropped. Their very experienced cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, remains as does their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has been forced to defend his own performance in the face of fierce criticism.
"It's always fine to lead a side when they're doing really well, and everyone's performing, but that's not the time when you need a leader," he said.
"Leading a side is all about doing it when the team is not doing well, trying to gel them together, back the youngsters and the senior guys. The easiest thing for me to do right now is to give up the captaincy and be part of the side, because that's just running away from the responsibility. I have to get the team together, and be prepared for the next Test match."
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image: © JJ Hall