- India win series 3-0 after cruising to victory with 19.3 overs to spare
- England were bowled out for just 206
- Moeen Ali top scored with 67 from 50 balls
- India’s openers put on stand of 183
- Ajinkya Rahane scored 106, Shikhar Dhawan hit 97 not out
This was brutal, the most emphatic example yet of the massive gulf between these sides in one-day cricket that leaves England searching desperately for answers if they are not to crash to yet another World Cup humiliation. It was always probable India, the world champions, would provide much stiffer opposition over 50-overs than the rabble who crashed to three heavy Test defeats. But no-one expected it to be as embarrassing for the hosts as this. India, and their passionate supporters, have come alive in coloured clothing, emphasising their modern priorities, while England have looked like an out-dated throwback of a one-day side lacking confidence and imagination. A crushing nine-wicket defeat, sealed with an incredible 117 balls to spare, gives India their first win in a bilateral one-day series on these shores for 24 years and hands Alastair Cook his fifth successive one-day series defeat.
These three successive humbling losses are close to as bad as it can get in one-day cricket. Only when England sent their Twenty20 team to contest a 50-over series in the Caribbean earlier this year under Stuart Broad have they been successful in the longer limited-overs game, providing considerable food for thought. What a long time ago now that Test vindication must seem for Cook, who almost cruelly finds himself back under the microscope as captain so soon after rising to the greatest challenge of his career to turn the Test tables on India. And how long ago last year’s Champions Trophy now seems when England threw away their chance against these same opponents on this same Edgbaston ground to win their first global trophy in the longer form of the one-day game. It is easy to forget now that England’s methods lifted them to the top of the world one-day rankings just two years ago under Cook and took them to within 20 runs with 16 balls left and six wickets in hand of that Champions Trophy win.
Yet that is a world away now, with the start of the long run of one-day cricket that is supposed to give England a much better chance of winning their first World Cup turning into a nightmare and leading to much soul-searching. ‘It was tough to take,’ admitted Cook after a game that was done and dusted by 4.30pm. ‘It’s a really tough place to be but we’ve got to stay true to our beliefs as a team and as players. When you start losing people chip away at you and you start doubting yourself. It’s a true test of character for the whole team now.’ India certainly played a different one-day game on Tuesday, a tigerish performance in the field and a lack of dynamism from England leaving them woefully short of par when they were bowled out in the last over for just 206. Only Moeen Ali, given his first chance in this series, provided any hope for England with a positive display of one-day hitting that has to be a template for his colleagues.
It is a question of mind-set and tactics as much as personnel. It was ridiculously easy for India, with only the paucity of England’s total stopping Shikhar Dhawn reaching his hundred, too. As it was he smashed a six off Harry Gurney to finish things off and leave himself three short of his landmark. As for England, surely they must reconsider their approach to one-day cricket? ‘We don’t need to change our approach we just need to get better,’ added Cook, who insisted he wanted to remain as one-day captain. ‘I’ve captained for three-and-a-half years with the goal of trying to win the World Cup in Australia. I know that sounds far-fetched but there’s a lot of good players in our changing room and if we improve we’ve got a chance. We have to believe that.’ It is fast becoming, with just a dead rubber at Headingley on Friday to come in this series, an even bigger challenge for Cook than turning round Test cricket.
None came, but many more boundaries did. Both India openers reached their 50s with sixes, Rahane first – sweeping Moeen – and then Dhawan hoisting Anderson high over long on. They were still greedy for more, Rahane racing to a 96-ball hundred containing nine fours and four sixes and Dhawan finally putting England out of their misery with his fourth six to finish the rout. With every blow, the cheers and jeers in the crowd rose another notch. As in Nottingham, though, it was with bat rather than ball that England had once again put themselves in an impossible position. -dailymail