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Gameplan not at fault as Moeen backs Cook to rally

Moeen Ali will take the attack back to India as England try to ease the pressure on their 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 that he is not the right man to lead England to the World Cup early next year.

The captain himself remains ­defiant, though, and so too are his players, as demonstrated 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, although it 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 today to the ground where he came within one ball of saving a Test series against Sri Lanka with an unbeaten century three months ago, Moeen aims to try to put India on the back foot once again.

He is not above copying successful opposition tactics either, having seen Suresh Raina seize the initiative with a brutal hundred in Cardiff, since when 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."

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.

However tough the going gets, Moeen has learned, Cook simply will not give up. "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," said Moeen. "I can imagine that it is very tough, but I know he will come good. I'm sure once we get one [win], it will all come, like the Test series did."

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