ASHISH SHUKLA Birmingham

Even though disappointed at missing out on his triple century by just six runs, England opener Alastair Cook said he is alt145 thrilledalt39to have scored 294 runs against India in the third Test here.

Cook hit his career- best total to guide England to a massive 710 for seven declared in reply to Indias first innings total of 224 all out.

‘Its taken almost 13 hours of hard work to get to that opportunity to make 300. When you donalt39t do it, its going to have a little of disappointment. But Ialt39m thrilled that I actually scored 294 runs rather than the six I didnalt39t get,’said Cook.

England are in the drivers seat with India already a wicket down in their second innings and two more days to go but Cook is not ready to take things for granted.

‘Theres a lot of hard work to do. But if we are patient like we have been and bowl like we know we can do, wealt39ll put India under a lot of pressure.”Wealt39re favourites but it doesnalt39t make you win. The wicket is still playing well, you could see that how people got in so it canalt39t be that bad. But if we keep doing our basics well, Ialt39m sure we will create nine opportunities in two days.’England didnalt39t score quickly yesterday but the opener put the blame on the slowness of the track.

‘The old ball made it quite hard to score. There were quite defensive fields- and the pitch was a little bit slower to dominate.

I donalt39t think anyone found it easy to hit through the line.”But theres such a long time left in the game. When you bowl a side out in two sessions, you can bat as long as you want. We knew the wicket wasnalt39t going to get any better and we wanted to make the most of that by batting when it was at itsalt39best,’Cook said.

Giving credit to Englands batting coach and his mentor Graham Gooch, Cook said, ‘As a side, wealt39ve got six double- hundreds since 2010, which is a tribute to the way we bat. Hes quite happy, quite proud. But Ialt39m sure healt39ll be throwing at me in the morning- put an innings to bed and move on.’Cook showed admirable patience and stamina to bat for 13 hours and he said he wasnalt39t too tired.

‘Thats why you do the fitness work, to allow you to do it, and then the mental concentration is something you pick up over time. I felt a little bit leggy, more tired last night- but today I am fine.’

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