Moeen relying on carefree attitude

Moeen Ali, pictured, is standing by Alastair Cook

Moeen Ali, pictured, is standing by Alastair Cook

First published in Sport © by

Moeen Ali will take the attack back to India as England try to ease the pressure on captain Alastair Cook by avoiding a Royal London Series whitewash at Headingley.

Three resounding defeats have galvanised Cook's critics, who have grown increasingly adamant he is not the right man to lead England to the World Cup early next year.

The captain himself remains defiant, however - and so too are his players, exemplified by Moeen's description of Cook as "mentally stronger" than anyone else he has ever met.

Moeen insists England's one-day international gameplan is not at fault, and have come up short against India so far only because of a collective loss of form and confidence.

That did not appear to be the case for him in England's latest trouncing at Edgbaston, where he alone countered the opposition with a 37-ball half-century.

On his return on Friday to the ground where - in very different circumstances and with contrasting methods - he came within one ball of saving a Test series against Sri Lanka with an unbeaten century three months ago, Moeen intends once again to try to put India on the back foot.

He is not above copying successful opposition tactics either, having seen Suresh Raina seize the initiative with a brutal hundred in Cardiff - since which India have not looked back.

"Watching someone like Suresh Raina in the first game, they were in trouble - and he came out ... took a few risks and they came off," said Moeen.

"He backed himself."

Moeen found himself in a similar situation in Birmingham, where just for a short time his fine footwork and carefree hitting raised English hopes.

"I tried to copy it a little a bit," he said.

"It's something I always go back to if things do a get a little bit (difficult).

"I just think 'go out and play, you know, who cares' - take the pressure off myself and enjoy playing international cricket for my country."

It is a state of mind which often works for him.

"It's something I go back to a lot and probably should do all the time.

"Take it to them - there is no point in being the same and getting out the same way all the time.

"I'd rather get caught on the boundary or stumped trying to do something than knock it around all the time."

The same tactics might not be advisable for Cook, whose methods are always likely to be more conservative.

The opener silenced his detractors by overcoming mid-summer adversity, and calls for him to give up the Test captaincy too, as he turned the Investec series round 3-1 in England's favour.

In the 50-over format, his sub-80 strike rate provides the most ammunition for those who want to see him replaced.

Moeen has no doubt, though, that Cook's determination will win the battle a second time.

"As a professional cricketer, we all know that form does have a dip," said Moeen.

"You have got to try and stay confident, even though it is hard and keep each other going.

"But he is determined to do well for the team and for himself, and we're hoping he will come off for the team tomorrow."

However tough the going gets, Moeen has learned, Cook simply will not give up.

"He has been the same since day one," said Moeen.

"I have never met a more mentally strong person than Alastair ... to go through what he is doing and still be the same day in day out.

"I can imagine that it is very tough, but I know he will come good.

"It's taking a bit of time. But I'm sure once we get one (win) it will all come, like the Test series did."

England, and perhaps Moeen in particular, can expect for the second match running to find themselves on the receiving end of jeers rather than cheers from the crowd as they try to dodge a 4-0 scoreline.

In his home town on Tuesday, the all-rounder was booed several times by a partisan majority, some of whom will have been supporting the country of their ancestors' birth rather than their own.

A near sell-out in Leeds may well also contain many rooting for the tourists rather than the hosts.

As a cricketer of Pakistani rather than Indian descent, Moeen knows he may bear the brunt - but it will not put him off.

"It doesn't really bother me one bit," he said.

"I think it's maybe because my background is from Pakistan.

"I just go out and block it out and try and play as best as I can.

"Obviously the noise for the India players was a lot more than ours ... but it just goes straight over my head."

He yearns for a time when English cricket crowds, irrespective of their parents' or grandparents' birthplace, support England.

"They've got a Brummy accent ... and some of the chants are English chants," he said.

"But it's just the way it is. I hope over time we can change.

"I spoke to a lot of people and there were a lot of Asians there who were supporting England as well.

"But obviously the majority were supporting India."

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