Who are the donkeys now?
England head into the final one-day international against India in Kolkata desperate to avoid an embarrassing 5-0 whitewash. In the Daily Mail, Lawrence Booth examines five areas that have let them down so far.
During India’s disastrous tour of England in the summer, their ragged fielding was a barometer of their general state of mind. Nasser Hussain even sparked some over-the-top outrage by branding one or two of their fielders ‘donkeys’.
But, by backing a young side, India have turned things round: Suresh Raina, Kohli and Jadeja have all been electric. England have just been shoddy. And that has had other repercussions: when Bresnan dived over the ball in Mohali, Dernbach blew a gasket, prompting Dhoni to point out the benefits of being nice to each other.
For four matches now England have been outplayed by a distance in all departments and now, in Eden Gardens, there looms a second successive whitewash for them in India," writes Mike Selvey in the Guardian. "Pride, and the slender possibility that they may avoid derision in these parts, is all that remains for which to play."
For Alastair Cook this is proving a tough introduction to leading a side against top-class opposition in conditions alien to his team. He is trying hard, improving as he goes along. He has attacked as well as he can with the resource he has. It is an unfortunate consequence of captaincy, however, that the responsibility for the team performance can impact on the individual's game to its detriment. One hopes this is not the case with Cook but his scores are reflective of the team's fortunes, with a run-a-ball 60 in the first match in Hyderabad, before it became evident that this young Indian side, at home, was a world away from the one encountered in the summer, dwindling to subsequent scores of nought, three and 10.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo