Cook cautiously confident

Mid Devon Star: Skipper Alastair Cook, left, is glad to have Kevin Pietersen's, right, services for the one-day tour Skipper Alastair Cook, left, is glad to have Kevin Pietersen's, right, services for the one-day tour

Captain Alastair Cook acknowledges the size of the challenge facing England in their one-day series against India, but is keen to remind his players a similarly imposing obstacle has already been cleared.

England face the reigning world champions in five one-day internationals this month, looking to reverse recent history after consecutive whitewashes in their past two ODI series in India. Indeed, the tourists have lost 12 and tied one of their past 13 fixtures in this country, last tasting victory in April 2006.

Cook, who made his international debut on that trip, said: "They are an incredibly strong side at home in their conditions. English sides in the past have struggled there in one-day cricket. But that is similar to the challenge we faced in the Test matches."

He went on: "We hadn't had a great record there (in Tests). This squad is keen to try and change that. One way to do that is to put in the same determination to improve our game in those conditions. We have to adapt quickly and hopefully we can do that."

England memorably won their Test series 2-1, their first such success since 1984-85, and Cook is keen for England to transfer the positives from that outing to the 50-over format.

"We can take confidence as a batting unit from the way we played their spinners after that first innings in Ahmedabad," the England skipper said. "The way we handled those spinners, we will have to do something like that in the one-dayers if we are going to win."

There is an element of uncertainty over England's strongest side going in to the series, with Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott and James Anderson all rested, Stuart Broad (heel) missing the first three matches and Kevin Pietersen back after almost a year of retirement.

The latter's return is an undoubted plus, not least because his past two one-day knocks for England saw him register back-to-back centuries against Pakistan.

Pietersen is expected to sign an extension to his short-term central contract during this trip and Cook is clear in his support of a player whose fallout with the powers that be last summer threatened to cut short his England career.

Cook said: "I can't speak highly enough of the way (Pietersen) went about things in India. As a captain it is great to have a player like him back fresh and desperate to score runs for England. Hopefully his experience in these conditions, with the Indian Premier League as well, is something we can use over the next three weeks."

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