England fall to heavy defeat

Alastair Cook's side fell to another disappointing defeat

Alastair Cook's side fell to another disappointing defeat

First published in National Sport News © by

Flat England took the fast track to a six-wicket defeat in the third Royal London one-day series match after getting into a costly tangle against India's spinners at Trent Bridge.

Alastair Cook's under-fire team failed to cope with Ravi Ashwin (three for 39) et al as they scrambled to only 227 all out, despite an opening stand of 82 between their captain and Alex Hales.

Then India's batsmen collectively made a mockery of their opposite numbers' struggles, knocking off an inadequate total with seven overs to spare to open up a 2-0 series lead and ensure England can only share the series spoils even if they win the last two matches.

The tourists' spinners have taken 13 wickets in two innings, six here on an unusual one-day international surface, before Ambati Rayudu's career-best 64 not out helped to complete the rout.

England had no answer to spin again after Cook and Hales' second successive half-century stand put them on course for a much more substantial total.

They went 26 overs with just a solitary boundary at one point, in a desultory innings, after being put in on a cloudy morning.

In his third and last over - before hobbling off with an ankle injury - Mohit Sharma dropped short to Cook and was pulled for England's first four and then gave Hales the width he craves and was driven consecutively to the cover fence.

Yet just when England seemed to have an ideal platform, their problems set in as Hales edged a sweep at Suresh Raina via his pad to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Cook charged too early at part-time off-spinner Rayudu, playing here only because of Rohit Sharma's broken finger and bowling thanks only to Mohit's sore foot.

It summed up Cook's travails that he managed to be out for two reasons - officially stumped after Rayudu saw him coming and pushed the ball down the leg-side, but also caught-behind off a thin edge - to an opponent billed as a batsman and previously without an international wicket.

Dhoni immediately withdrew Rayudu, job done after two overs.

But Joe Root succumbed immediately to Ravindra Jadeja, spinning one past the outside edge for another sharp stumping.

Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell tried to rebuild, but the left-hander fell to some turn from Ashwin, India's sole frontline slow bowler who found the edge on the back-foot defence for Dhoni's second catch.

Mohit, in such pain earlier, proved himself unexpectedly recovered to the extent he was able to administer the next blow to England's hopes by throwing the stumps down from wide long off to run Bell out as he came back for a second from Jos Buttler's drive.

Nothing was going right for the hosts and their powerplay became a non-event after getting off on the wrong foot when more turn from Ashwin - and a blinding one-handed slip catch by a diving Raina - saw off Ben Stokes.

Only 12 runs, all in singles, came from what in more accustomed circumstances is a pivotal and strategic five overs as Chris Woakes and Buttler instead had to be intent on preserving wickets for the last 10, in which England had enough resources left to scramble past 200 thanks to some late hitting from number nine James Tredwell.

It was a total which was always unlikely to stretch India, and so it proved even after Shikhar Dhawan cut Woakes to point and then Ajinkya Rahane - opening in the absence of Rohit - and Virat Kohli, like three Englishmen before them, fell between 40 and 50.

Rahane got a thin edge behind to give Steven Finn his first international wicket in almost a year since he last figured for England.

Kohli was then furious with himself when he speared a drive at Stokes to mid on to go for 40, the best international score of his hugely disappointing summer.

But Rayudu and Raina made sure there were no more blips, until the result was utterly beyond doubt, in a stand of 87 - leaving Cook to contemplate damage limitation for the remainder of the series.

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