England limp to ODI series defeat

Moeen Ali was the only England batsman to successfully take the attack to India

Alastair Cook's side were soundly beaten at Edgbaston

Alastair Cook's England side were hammered by India at Edgbaston

First published in National Sport News © by

Alastair Cook's England one-day international team hit a new low as a nine-wicket hammering at the hands of India completed the captain's fifth successive series defeat.

Embarrassment hung in the air for the hosts at Edgbaston where a near capacity crowd, evidently dominated by opposition supporters, raucously lapped up the occasion.

Ajinkya Rahane (106) hit his maiden ODI century in an opening stand of 183 with Shikhar Dhawan (97no) as India surged past an inadequate 206 all out with 19.3 overs to spare to wrap up the Royal London Series 3-0.

At the ground where India also beat the hosts in a tense Champions Trophy final last summer, England were woefully uncompetitive this time - and only a late slip from Rahane, caught at cover by Cook off Harry Gurney, saved them from their first 10-wicket defeat on home soil.

For their critics, this performance will be the most damning indictment yet of England's chances with current personnel at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year.

A gem of an innings from Moeen Ali (67) was an oasis in the desert for a team who can now only contemplate trying to avoid a whitewash at Headingley on Friday.

England lurched to 23 for three after being put in on a glorious morning, and stumbled again to 114 for five in the 33rd over.

Birmingham-born Moeen, in his first ODI of the summer, responded with England's only half-century of the series to date, and the left-hander did not hang about either - coming in at number seven and needing only 37 balls to pass 50 with three sixes and three fours.

Unfortunately for England, he played at a level conspicuously above all his team-mates.

Opener Cook's was the second of three wickets to fall for eight runs, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar put England on the back foot with a skilful new-ball spell of 8-3-14-2.

The captain played out two initial maidens from Kumar - there would be four in the 10-over powerplay - before seeing the same bowler strike immediately with his first delivery to Alex Hales.

Cook's opening partner thrives on width but got none from Kumar, who tucked him up with a tight line and hint of inswing and got through Hales' second inclination to defend and knocked back off-stump.

Three balls later, Cook sliced an attempted cut straight to gully - and then, in the absence of the injured Ian Bell, replacement number three Gary Ballance aimed to on-drive first-change Mohammed Shami (three for 28) only to prop a simple catch to cover off a leading edge.

Joe Root and Eoin Morgan limited damage against the swinging ball in a much-needed and hard-working stand of 80, but both then went to spin in the space of four overs.

Morgan deflected Ravindra Jadeja straight to leg-slip; then Root reverse-swept Suresh Raina's off-spin to the man waiting at short third-man.

Moeen and Jos Buttler could not therefore attack the batting powerplay as England would have wished, but still bagged a handy 41 for one.

That included two Moeen sixes, pulled over mid-wicket and driven over long on, in successive Ravichandran Ashwin overs.

Buttler did not try to match him, but the hope he might cash in on his early caution was not realised because he fell lbw on the back foot to a Shami delivery which simulation suggested would have cleared the stumps.

That, and Moeen's eventual departure - bowled trying to make room to hit Ashwin - meant England's tail were left trying in vain to bat the overs and only eke out rather than smash runs.

The upshot, even more so than at Trent Bridge on Saturday, was that the hosts had not set a remotely competitive target.

India's reply was watchful - for the first four overs at least.

In the fifth, Rahane drove four fours in five deliveries as James Anderson overpitched in search of the early wickets England so badly needed.

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.

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