x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

England's improved batting fails to bring victory

England suffer fifth successive defeat despite delivering their best batting display of the one-day series against India.

Kevin Pietersen raises his bat in celebration after scoring a century  against India.
Kevin Pietersen raises his bat in celebration after scoring a century against India.

CUTTACK // England suffered their fifth successive defeat despite delivering their best batting display of the one-day series with India cruising to yet another comprehensive victory. The tourists have been scratching around for answers to halt India's seemingly unstoppable progress towards a series whitewash after emphatic defeats in Rajkot, Indore, Kanpur and Bangalore. They have tried different batting combinations, used 13 players in five matches and even took the day off from training to try and break the routine and perhaps change their fortunes against India's impressive line-up. But despite Kevin Pietersen's unbeaten 111 - ending a run of 14 matches without England scoring a one-day international century - guiding the tourists to a competitive 270 for four, India secured their six-wicket victory with 6.2 overs to spare. It was another desperate blow to England's hopes of at least salvaging some pride having surrendered any chance of challenging for the series by losing the opening four matches. Having chosen to conduct a team meeting rather than travel to the Barabati Stadium for practice yesterday, England always knew that anything less than an improved performance would invite criticism for their preparation. Their change of routine worked to a point with England delivering their most competitive score of the series and ending their barren run without a century, which stretched back to when Pietersen scored an unbeaten 110 against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street last June. Yet even that was not enough to halt another Indian victory with openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar's aggressive 136-run partnership spanning 20 overs effectively settling the issue long before Rohit Sharma hit the winning boundary. *PA