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Cook: England still the underdogs against India

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Alastair Cook hopes England can build on their surprise victory at Rajkot © Getty Images
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It will be a big stretch to compare England's Rajkot ODI win to the famous Mumbai Test victory in November but the common factor in both is that Alastair Cook and his men have beaten India in conditions where the home side were expected to flourish.

The Rajkot victory also gains in significance given England's abysmal recent ODI run in India; James Tredwell showing again that there is talent besides Graeme Swann in England's offspin department; the handy debut for Joe Root; and the winning start for new limited-overs coach Ashley Giles.

"It is important, for the main reason that it gives us the confidence," Cook said at the post-match conference, which took place amid a deafening fireworks show. "I mean it's pretty much the same squad that we had last time out here when we lost 5-0. So to get an early win, especially in the first game, it proves to themselves that they can play in these conditions. You know it's hard, you know it's tough and it's different - but I thought the way we fought out there, we're going to have to do that again in the other games."

The victory, though, hasn't changed Cook's pre-series view that India are favourites. "I think we're still clear underdogs just because of the fact that this is India's home conditions and they're so strong at home."

What will be particularly pleasing for England is the performance of Tredwell, who removed four of the top five batsmen to grab his second Man-of-the-Match award in the two ODIs he has played in India. Swann and Monty Panesar outbowled India's spinners in the Test series and this time it was the turn of Tredwell to show the hosts' tweakers how it is done. "We know what Tredders does," Cook said. "To get four from there is really a brilliant effort." The "there" was a reference to a belter of a track where most bowlers struggled to make an impact.

Tredwell had support from an unexpected quarter. Root, the Yorkshire batsman who showed his tenacity with the bat on Test debut in Nagpur, sent down a series of tidy offspin overs to pull back India after their fast start, showing enough ability to hint that he could be counted on to bowl a few overs regularly. "We think of him as a batsman, he's in there to score runs," Cook said, after Root didn't get to bat on debut. "Clearly, with the start we got, we needed the power hitters to come in next but there'll be other times when he'll bat at the top of the order. It's a big bonus that he can bowl more than useful offspinners."

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