England v India, 4th ODI, Edgbaston September 1, 2014

India pile pressure on Cook


Match facts

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Start time 10.30am local (0930 GMT)

Play 01:26
Morgan can't live on past reputation

Big Picture

It feels like only a few weeks ago that Alastair Cook was batting off questions about his form and captaincy. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago. This time, however, it seems unlikely that India will roll over to have their tummies tickled, as happened in the Tests. They cannot be beaten in the ODIs and could claim a first bilateral series victory in England since 1990 with a third consecutive win at Edgbaston.

It was in Birmingham last summer that India lifted the Champions Trophy, after MS Dhoni stuck an Ishant Sharma-shaped spanner in England's well-oiled machine. Since then, England have lost 12 out of 20 completed one-day games and the failure to beat India will extend their run without a series victory at home (the last was against Australia in 2012) into a third year. At the start of a lengthy one-day run-up to the World Cup, England are struggling to go through the gears.

That will not be a surprise to those who have watched the two preceding matches against India. On both occasions, a modestly encouraging start against seam was rapidly and disconcertingly stalled by spin. England appear so buttoned up during the middle overs that it is a wonder any of the batsmen can bend over to take guard. The mid-innings longueurs were once accepted as a period when runs came at a trickle of ones and twos; now, with only four men outside the circle, there is a clear imperative to score boundaries as well. England are proving inept on both counts.

On Monday morning, the ECB tweeted a picture of batsmen practising in the nets against Merlyn. As Sidharth Monga has pointed out, the least they can do is try to disrupt India's spinners and force Dhoni to think about his strategies. The World Cup may take place in less spin-friendly environs (and it might be expected to turn again at Edgbaston) but, the way things are going, England will find two spinners deployed against them whether they are in Christchurch or Adelaide.

Plenty has gone right for India so far and Dhoni might appreciate a sterner examination of his team's credentials before they return home. Cook will doubtless internalise the criticism, Ned Flanders-style, and prepare with even greater resolve to build the platform so beloved of England's strategists. It is tempting to imagine him practising his best Frank Sinatra impression in front of the bathroom mirror, visualising the hoped-for day early next year when Cook can tell everyone England did it his way.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

England LLLLW

Players to watch

The Test series were a feast for Joe Root but he has been subsisting on a meagre diet in coloured clothing, managing 121 runs at 17.29 in ODIs this summer, since making his maiden century in the format on England's pre-World T20 tour of the Caribbean. Coming in a No. 4, Root is viewed as being able to provide both solidity and a scampering increase in tempo. Little more than a year ago, he averaged 55.22 at a strike rate of 87.80 but both are heading in the wrong direction. Needs to prove England would be more stolid without him.

Things were beginning to look up for Virat Kohli at Trent Bridge, the ground where his bleak tour began with scores of 1 and 8 in the first Test. Aside from a half-century against Middlesex, his 40 in the third ODI is Kohli's highest score in more than two months in England. He still managed to get himself out in frustrating fashion, however, flicking a half-volley straight to mid-on and then receiving a send-off from England's soon-to-be-trounced bowlers. Kohli has only three more innings, at most, to leave a reminder of his quality.

Team news

Cook's diagnosis after going 2-0 down the series was that the blueprint was sound but England needed a more solid foundation. If they want a banker for a top-order anchor, then it might be time to turn to Gary Ballance, who made 61 for Yorkshire when released for the Royal London Cup last week. Moeen Ali could also return to ODI pyjamas and attempt to burst India's bubble again, possibly at the expense of Ben Stokes.

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Ian Bell/Gary Ballance, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Steven Finn, 10 James Tredwell, 11 James Anderson

Aside from the need to assess Mohit Sharma's foot injury - he was restricted to bowling just three overs at Trent Bridge - India could well be unchanged. Umesh Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni provide pace-bowling options if Mohit is not passed fit.

India (probable) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohit Sharma

Pitch and conditions

The pitch for the Sri Lanka ODI, which England lost by six wickets, was slow and tacky, with Angelo Mathews employing his spinners for almost 30 overs. There is expected to be more grass on this surface and England will hope it is less hospitable for India's slow bowlers. The forecast is for dry weather and ticket sales have been good, so expect another lively atmosphere with support for both sides.

Stats and trivia

  • India have won four of their seven ODIs at Edgbaston, the most recent being their Champions Trophy final victory over England.

  • Alastair Cook passed 3000 ODI runs during the third ODI, only the 13th Englishman to do so.

  • MS Dhoni needs one more win to become India's most successful captain in ODIs. He is currently level with Mohammad Azharuddin on 90.

  • Ravindra Jadeja (31) and R Ashwin (30) have taken 61 wickets at 20.79 between them against England. Only Harbhajan Singh (36) and Javagal Srinath (35) have taken more for India in ODIs.


"Fifty-over cricket isn't quite the same as people just walk out and whack it. The best sides don't do that either."
England coach Peter Moores defends his side's method

""I don't know how you keep track of his records, but he is not known for [keeping an eye on] his records. Only with evolution of Twitter he is learning about his records. Apart from that he doesn't bother about it at all.''
According to R Ashwin, Dhoni will not be celebrating if he breaks Azharuddin's mark

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on September 2, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    One expect Bell to get dropped but not on his home ground. If England lose today will Cook then do the decent thing and step down from rhe ODI squad?

  • Android on September 2, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    I actually feel bad for Umesh Yadav..He probably deserved Mohit Sharma's slot in the team..

  • Pritam on September 2, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    India must win this series 4-0 keeping WC in mind. Although the Test defeat won't become any less shameful with this. But WC is nearing and we have to be a more stable ODI side, which we are not at the moment...4-0(5) in NZ was a shame. We need to include/replace 3 to 4 players for World Cup, Dhawan-Rohit opening pair has ZERO hopes, I think Rahane should continuously open from now on. I would like to see Yuvraj back for WC but he isn't playing cricket at the moment, he should be, he must not lose temperament and fitness. Pace bowling unit needs sincere attention... alongside Bhuvi, Umesh and Varun should be polished for WC.

  • John on September 2, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    @Farhan Sadik Riad on (September 2, 2014, 7:16 GMT) Bres was terrible last series he played for Eng but agree he could do no worse than Stokes. Re Bopara - I wonder if he is carrying an injury niggle? In the last 50 over game for Essex he didn't bowl an over. If he can't bowl he is not worth the place IMO Re Wright - I like the guy but he's rarely performed for England so I reckon Hales deserves his chance above him Re Kieswetter - injured/unavailable

  • John on September 2, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    @CodandChips on (September 2, 2014, 6:26 GMT) He has played one OD for Yorks and scored 61 at a SR of less than 70. The score is good but the SR poor. On a 300 pitch that IMO would do more harm than good. I know he has a great OD record/SR for Yorks which makes me think even more along the lines that it's because he plays test crickets and can't adjust - maybe because he is rarely playing any SF cricket. As I have mentioned before/elsewhere I am genuinely starting to worry that our test batsmen are showing an inability to adjust mindsets acc to the format they're playing or even if they've been advised to play that way. I'd genuinely consider ALL the test players from SFs

  • Kasun on September 2, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    I am surprised to see such a spin friendly pitches in England. You won't get bouncy pitches when you travel India.

  • RAJARAMAN on September 2, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    For an ODI, nobody wants a green top. Everybody wants a full match and hence this moderately challenging pitches. Still, you need skill to win, even on these surfaces!!

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    Few questions do not have answers I guess; these are the questions I have;

    1) How is that england pitches suddenly became so spin friendly? Dhoni too had mentioned after the 2nd odi that he was surprised to see so much spin in these pitches.

    2) If england pitches are naturally not so slow and not turning then how come they are slow and turning for this ODI series? Who ordered for such turning pitches?

    3) Why is that cook did not know these are slow and turning pitches before his team selection, means why there are not more spin bowlers in his team?

    4) If england pitches are naturally slow and turning then why are there not more spinners in the playing eleven for england?

    5) If england pitches are so slow and turning then how come england batsmen are so incompetent in playing spin bowling?

    No doubt engalnd still played very poor cricket and india played better cricket but there are few issues as pointed above that are very baffling and do not seem to have any answers.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    mohit sharma has to replaced by umesh yadav, mohit is always getting hurt after bowling few overs, mohit has some issue with his fitness. rohit is not there so i hope opening batsman will give good start.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Well Written article Alan - will have to follow you on twiiter

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