India are not ready for the World Cup. Not yet. That is the conclusion drawn by India's captain Virat Kohli, who believes his team have "quite a few" questions to answer between now and the 2019 tournament, after England won the last two ODIs to seal the series 2-1 at Headingley.
After a second demoralising defeat in three days, Kohli said that India were "not good enough" and needed to pick up their performances in the intervening 12 months.
After a subdued batting performance had received strong condemnation from India's fans at Lord's on Saturday, Kohli's men failed in all three departments in Leeds. And despite an honest appraisal of their shortcomings, Kohli did not exactly spell out what areas they needed to work on to be ready for the World Cup.
"Well, quite a few," Kohli told the host broadcaster during the post-match presentation in Leeds. "That is what every side is looking for: they are looking for the best balance they can have possibly. All these sort of series and these sort of losses will tell us exactly what we need to work on and the things we need to rectify come World Cup time."
Kohli's assessment had been echoed by India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar, who had pointed out on Monday that the team still had enough matches between now and the World Cup to work out their unsettled roles.
"We have got 15-16 games. We have to get our act right and get the balance of the side really powerful and strong and make sure we are not over-reliant on one skill. [All] three skills have to come along together and have consistent performances and that is what we are striving for as a team."
Kohli was the only India batsman today to score a half-century. Rohit Sharma went early once again and Shikhar Dhawan was unfortunate to be run out after he was beaten by the spectacular fielding and throw from Ben Stokes. Dinesh Karthik, drafted in in place of KL Rahul, hit a couple of breezy fours, but paid the price for attempting a drive far from his body against Adil Rashid.
Suresh Raina and Hardik Pandya once again failed to stitch together a partnership with MS Dhoni, who cursed himself later for picking the wrong ball to attack after another cautious start to his innings. India managed 258.
"We were never on the mark as far as the runs on the board was concerned, we were 25-30 less," said Kohli. "England were really clinical with the ball, bat and the field as well. We were just not good enough."
Kohli said he was surprised with the behaviour of the pitch which was slow throughout the day. He said initially with the new ball it had been two-paced but subsequently became slow, helping the spin twins of Rashid and Moeen Ali.
"They suffocated us through the middle overs really well," Kohli said. "And the two spinners again joining hands and bowling 20 overs together. They really bowled well in partnerships. That is what you need as a side - you need bowlers to step up and bowl in partnerships. None of them got greedy, they just kept containing the runs and got the results eventually."