Alastair Cook is hoping he and opening partner Andrew Strauss will provide England with a good platform when they walk for a 100th time together in the second Test against Pakistan starting here from Wednesday.
Cook and Strauss will become the fourth opening pair to complete 100 or more innings together in all Tests -- behind West Indian Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, Sri Lanka's Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya and Australia's Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
But Cook and Strauss face a huge challenge from Pakistan bowlers who restricted them to stands of ten and six during their ten wicket annihilation in the first Test in Dubai last week. Pakistan lead the three-Test series 1-0.
Strauss fell to off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for 19 and Cook was dismissed by Mohammad Hafeez for three in the first innings while paceman Umar Gul accounted for England openers in the second innings. Strauss made six and Cook five.
Cook said openers failed to provide the kind of begining the pair are used to giving in the past. "It's a great thing to work now, I didn't know that it's our 100th time," Cook said on Monday as England prepare to avoid their first series defeat since going down 1-0 to the West Indies in the Caribbean in 2009.
"He's got a great record and proved that over a number of years, it's our job with top of the order to lay out the platform, we didn't do that in Dubai and that's why we didn't get good totals," said Cook of England's low scores of 192 and 160.
"It's always nice to our stability with Strauss at the top of order. We have had some great moments. We are pretty similar in character and we do enjoy batting together and hopefully on the 100th time we will do something special," said Cook.
Cook, who hit a century in England's two wins in their lead-up games to the series, blamed poor shot selection by the batsmen.
"We made some poor decision making, to score runs you have to make good decisions for long periods of time, we didn't do that," said Cook whose average for the opening wicket with Strauss is 42.90.
"It was just a poor performance. The challenge for us now is to put that right, and hopefully we can do that in the second Test," said Cook, whose team has not lost two Tests in a row since South Africa did that in England in July 2008.
Cook said England have bounced back in the past after losing the first match.
"Of course, when you lose and you lose heavily, naturally it does dent confidence, but if you look up history, when we have produced a poor performance we've managed to bounce back well, hopefully we can do it this time.
"You don't become bad players and a bad team overnight, whatever you read or whatever people say about you. We know we have some world class players in the team, it's about delivering over the next five days," said Cook.