England captain Alastair Cook is looking forward to a rare week-long break in a hectic playing schedule after the heavy third Test defeat against India in Mohali on Tuesday (November 29).
Virat Kohli’s side won by eight wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-Test series.
But England’s players are looking to unwind with some welcome down time in Dubai before making the short trip from the Gulf resort city to Mumbai for the fourth Test, which begins on December 8.
“The break comes at a very good time, obviously, after three back-to-back Test matches,” Cook told reporters after the defeat.
Some of the England squad have been on duty since landing in Bangladesh on September 30 for three one-day internationals followed by the 1-1 draw in the Test series there.
Cook himself has spent just 18 hours with his newborn daughter after dashing home from the Bangladesh tour for her birth.
“We have this week off and I think, most people going to Dubai,” said Cook. “Mentally it will be break from cricket. We will come back little bit more refreshed.”
His team has endured tough couple of months after losing a Test to Bangladesh for the first time and are now staring at a series defeat against top-ranked India.
But Cook remembered that four years ago in India England came back from 1-0 down to win the four-Test series 2-1 and said that if they show greater consistency they can still save the series.
“The challenge is try and put in that performance in which consistently, over five days, we play well.
“We have done it in one game (the first Test in Rajkot), we haven’t done it in the other two,” said Cook.
He said it was difficult to compare with the 2012 tour, because the two teams have changed character since.
“The India we played in 2012 was different, probably an ageing team compared to now,” Cook said, adding that his current side were still learning how to tackle unfamiliar subcontinent conditions with low, turning pitches.
“In 2012 we were a lot more experienced and had played a lot more in the subcontinent over the three years before that.
“This side, only two in the top order (Joe Root and Cook himself) have played more than one or two games in the subcontinent before we played in Bangladesh. That’s probably the difference.”
Meanwhile, the uncapped Test pair of opening batsman Keaton Jennings and all-rounder Liam Dawson will join England for the remainder of their tour of India, selectors announced on Wednesday.
South Africa-born Jennings – whose father Ray coached the South African national team – will replace Haseeb Hameed who has a broken left little finger and Dawson fills in for fellow left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari, who is struggling with a back problem, the England and Wales Cricket Board said.
Hameed is returning home for an operation on the back of plaudits for his courageous half century in the second innings of the third Test in Mohali.
Durham star Jennings, who averaged over 60 for Durham in the County Championship last season, is set to be Cook’s 11th opening partner since former skipper Andrew Strauss called it a day four years ago.
Jennings, 24, should get an immediate run-out for England Lions against the United Arab Emirates on Thursday before heading to India.
Ansari is also due to return to England while 26-year-old Dawson, who made his ODI and Twenty20 cricket debut this summer, is expected to arrive in India next week from Bangladesh where he is playing in the Premier League for Rangpur Raiders.