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  • England v India, 3rd ODI

Spinners thrive as England thrashed again

Siddarth Ravindran | ESPNcricinfo
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Suresh Raina took a stunning slip catch as India's fielding improved from the amateurish levels in the Tests © Getty Images
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India 228 for 4 (Rayudu 64*) beat England 227 (Cook 44, Ashwin 3-39) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India channelled the spirit of their unlikely Champions Trophy victory in England last year - the fielding was near world-class, the spinners were outstanding - to leave team director Ravi Shastri clapping in approval midway through the third ODI at Trent Bridge. The batsmen then followed up with an assured performance that never allowed England a serious chance of defending a modest target, and put India 2-0 ahead in the series.

The turn from the track made the conditions seem alien for England, and a vocal crowd plenty of whom were backing India only enhanced that feeling. James Anderson was roundly booed at the venue where the biggest controversy of the summer erupted during the Test. England's ho-hum effort today will only increase the boos from the critics who have already savaged the team's chances at the World Cup.

When MS Dhoni won the toss he spoke about wanting to bowl because of "early morning help" for his quicks. Though Bhuvneshwar Kumar had the ball curling around, producing plenty of edges, he couldn't produce the breakthrough. An hour after the start, England were comfortably placed at 75 for 0, with Alastair Cook finding some semblance of ODI form and Alex Hales providing some of the dynamic hitting he was picked for.

That was when England's old troubles against spin surfaced again, and most gallingly for them, their initial problems were against the part-timers, Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu. Hales top-edged a sweep for the second time in his two ODI innings as Raina struck in his first over, before Cook was stumped to give Rayudu his first international wicket.

Dhoni had been forced to turn to his part-timers because quick bowler Mohit Sharma hobbled off the field with a leg injury in the 11th over. Though he came back about an hour later, Dhoni didn't need to turn to him again as the spinners, both the specialists and the irregulars, were strangling England. Between the 15th and 42nd over, which were almost entirely bowled by the tweakers, there were only two boundaries.

The ball was gripping and turning, and England's batsmen seemed as uncomfortable as someone undertaking the ice-bucket challenge. Ravindra Jadeja got one to spin big, beating Joe Root's outside edge and Dhoni pulled off another of his express stumpings. R Ashwin found the outside edge five overs later and Eoin Morgan was caught behind. From 82 for 0, England had slid to 120 for 4.

India's fielding in the Test series had been amateurish, with catches regularly put down and run-outs virtually out of the question. England's next two wickets, though, fell through top-notch fielding efforts: Mohit rifled in a direct hit from wide long-off to catch Ian Bell short, and Raina swooped to take a low slip catch to send back Ben Stokes.

The run-rate continued to dodder despite a couple of reverse-swept boundaries from Jos Buttler, and it was only a hard-hitting cameo from James Tredwell towards the end of the innings that lifted England to 227.

That proved some way short of what England needed though. Shikhar Dhawan played a couple of sparkling strokes before slapping a short ball straight to backward point to extend his lean run. Ajinkya Rahane, promoted to the top of the order in the absence of the injured Rohit, was comfortable opening the innings. He began with a series of boundaries when the new-ball bowlers strayed, and the pick of the lot was a nonviolent push past Anderson for four.

The only disappointment for him was that, like in the first ODI, he didn't carry on to a big score, holing out for 45 after a silken innings. Virat Kohli also didn't make a big score, but he won't be too disappointed as he hit form after a wretched Test series. There was an effortless loft to the sightscreen for six early on, after he which he knuckled down and worked the singles and twos. With the asking rate well in check, he looked set to play the long innings, but picked out mid-on when on 40.

That allowed Rayudu a chance to further his middle-order credentials - and he responded with an unbeaten 64 to shepherd India to victory - and also allowed Raina the chance to supplement his superb work with the ball and in the field with a brisk cameo.

The England bowlers never put India under any serious pressure, and Steve Finn's first England game in nearly a year ended in disappointment as he returned figures of 8-0-50-1. The bigger worry for the home side was how thoroughly they were outclassed, though they could grab a sliver of solace in knowing that conditions during the World Cup are unlikely to be similar to today.

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