India v England: Alastair Cook among world's best - Gooch

Alastair Cook

England batting coach Graham Gooch said captain Alastair Cook "is one of the best players in the world" following his unbeaten 168 against India.

Cook, 27, has now batted through all four sessions of the second innings to take the first Test into the final day.

"Alastair led from the front as captain," Gooch said. "[It was] as good an innings as I've seen him play."

Cook's 21st Test hundred also took him past Essex mentor Gooch in the list of England's all-time century makers.

Cook's defiant knock helped his country overturn a mammoth initial deficit of 330 runs after being forced to follow on to finish on 340-5 - a lead of 10.

They had looked to be on course for a heavy defeat in Ahmedabad when Ian Bell and Samit Patel fell to successive Umesh Yadav deliveries before Cook struck up an unbeaten 141-run partnership with Matt Prior.

"Some players blossom under the captaincy as a performer and he has certainly blossomed under that responsibility here," Gooch added about the player he has tutored for club and country for nearly a decade.

"That will do him the world of good to put that score on the board, showing what he is capable of and what this team is capable of. He was under great pressure after a poor first-innings performance from the team.

"He crafted a century today. It wasn't a flamboyant innings - he did the job that was necessary."

While Cook has excelled in the early stages of the latest series on the sub-continent, Kevin Pietersen endured a less than successful return to the Test arena by registering scores of 17 and 2 following the summer's text message saga.

"I think Kevin will be very disappointed with both innings," said Gooch. "He trains very hard and practises very hard, and has played well in recent times.

"But like other players, he has to trust his ability.

"Obviously he wouldn't be happy with his return in this match or with the way he played, but he is strong enough and a big enough character to carry on working on his game.

"I'm sure he'll put it right."

India remain in a strong position to take an early lead in the series but Gooch was encouraged by the resolve his players had started to show after a tricky opening few days.

"India put 520 on the board and played very well. They are a very good side and exceptional at playing in these conditions," he said.

"We've shown today that we can cope with those conditions as well."

We are using archive pictures for this Test because several photo agencies, including Getty Images, have been barred from the ground following a dispute with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, while other agencies have withdrawn their photographers in protest.

Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott's analysis of each day's play on the Test Match Special podcast.

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