London: England's "lack of match preparation" in India ahead of the gruelling five-Test series could be a "problem" but the team can bank on its 'Bazball' approach to upstage Rohit Sharma and his men, feels Alastair Cook, who led the Englishmen to a memorable Test triumph in the country back in 2012.
Having opted for a month-long training camp in 'subcontinent-like conditions' of Abu Dhabi, Ben Stokes and Co. arrived in Hyderabad on Sunday, just four days before the opening Test on Thursday.
"A problem England will have is a lack of match preparation," Cook, who had top-scored with 562 runs in the 2-1 come-from-behind win over India in the 2012-13 series, wrote in his column for 'The Sunday Times'.
"It is the nature of the modern tour. When we won in India in 2012 we had three warm-up games against good sides -- Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay were in the top four in the India A side we faced and Cheteshwar Pujara played in one of the other games," he recalled.
"...I can understand why England wants to practise in a controlled environment where they know what the nets and facilities are going to be like and there's nothing too unpredictable.
Cook said at least one warm-up game should have been scheduled.
"It would be good if there was some sort of unwritten agreement between countries to put on decent practice matches in decent conditions for touring teams....at the moment too many series are totally dominated by the home side and I don't think that’s healthy for Test cricket," the 39-year-old said.
Since their defeat in 2012, India has not lost at home, remaining undefeated in 14 Test series.
Bazball way forward ============= Cook, however, was confident in England's Bazball approach, which advocates an attacking style of play. The team demonstrated it in the successful tour of Pakistan (3-0) last year.
"...there is no doubt what England are going to try to do in India and I now think it is their best chance of success. They won't follow the traditional rules of batting in the subcontinent. I always found the key time was the first 30 balls when you are trying to acclimatise," Cook said.
"When you walk out to bat, particularly as a middle-order player coming in against spin, you're surrounded by close fielders. There is a lot of noise and chatter "...if you can find a way to get past that then you find that the subcontinent is one of the nicest places to bat because you don't get the changing conditions you get in England, where it's sunny one minute then a bit of rain changes everything.
Cook said the English team has the attack to unsettle the star-studded Indian batting line-up.
"I'll be very interested to see how India reacts. I think this England side can put the Indian bowlers under pressure straight away.
"It might upset their rhythm and how they go about it. They just won't be used to it as most sides try to hang in there, but that generally doesn't work against India at home.
"The key will be adapting the aggressive shots they play based on the pitch they are confronted with. If it is turning excessively, the odds aren’t in your favour if you are rushing down the wicket and having a massive hack." Root best player of spin ================== Identifying Joe Root as a key asset, Cook hailed the former England captain as one of the best-ever players of spin.
"He's scored a lot of runs in the subcontinent in recent years in Sri Lanka and India, and he has done it by being very proactive, but in what seemed to be a very risk-free way. There's a lot the other batsmen can learn from how he goes about it," he explained.