England announce unchanged squad for Pakistan finale
The selectors thought about handing a home debut to leg-spinner Adil Rashid but have now stuck with the same XI that won the third Test by 141 runs at Edgbaston on Sunday.
As a result, England’s five-man attack will again feature four seamers and off-break bowler Moeen Ali as the specialist spinner.
England lead the four-match series 2-1 heading into Thursday’s match in south London.
“I think the pitch will turn later in the game, but we feel the seamers are bowling well and Mo took a massive stride in the last game,” Cook told reporters at The Oval on Wednesday.
England will hold all nine bilateral series titles against the world’s other Test-playing nations if they avoid defeat at The Oval.
Should England take the series 3-1 and India do not win both of the remaining matches in their series away to the West Indies, Cook’s men could go top of the world Test rankings.
With plenty resting on the outcome of this match, Cook said now was not the time to bring in Rashid so the Yorkshireman could gain more experience ahead of England’s upcoming tours in the more spin-friendly conditions of Bangladesh and India.
“This series is very much alive and we want to play well and win the series rather than look ahead and prepare for the winter,” said Cook.
“He (Rashid) is going to keep gaining experience in the one-day internationals.
“In an ideal world you’d like to give him a go, but international cricket is not about giving people a go. “The guys are in a good space.”
Cook was a member of the last England side that went to the top of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings back in 2012.
And the opening batsman said an emerging England team had some way to go to match the experienced side of four years ago.
“I genuinely would say it has come a little bit early for this side,” said Cook.
“If it comes (going to the top of the rankings) it would be a brilliant achievement. There are still questions to be answered. “We’re not at the same level as 2012.”
England team to play Pakistan in fourth Test:
Alastair Cook (capt), Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson