Cook searches for England solution
Captain Alastair Cook claims there is “no magic answer” to England’s troubles in India after they went down to one-day series defeat with two games to spare.
Although the tourists posted 298 for four in Mohali today - comfortably their highest total of the three matches thus far - it was overhauled by India with five wickets in hand and four balls to spare.
That the margin of defeat was considerably tighter than the opening two games - England lost by 126 runs in Hyderabad and eight wickets in Delhi - was of no consolation to Cook.
“It’s a tough defeat to take, especially when it’s so close,” he said. “We’ve stepped up our performance in the last two games, but it doesn’t make it any easier. If you are hammered it’s almost easier.
“I don’t think there is a magic answer. We just made too many mistakes to win a game against a world-class side.
“It cost us 20-25 runs in field and that was probably the difference between the two sides today.
“We’ve made mistakes in the field in the three games and I honestly don’t know why that’s happened. We haven’t made those mistakes up until this series.
“In all forms of the game we’re an outstanding fielding side. You don’t lose that in a week. It’s frustrating but I’m sure we’ll get back to that standard.
“The skill is there to handle these conditions; the talent is there. But for some reason we haven’t produced it.”
Cook was referring, in particular, to another unusually sloppy fielding display that saw wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter spill two catches and make a hash of a run-out in the penultimate over.
As it was, the reprieved Ravindra Jadeja accompanied the irrepressible Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the finish line courtesy of an unbroken sixth-wicket stand worth 65.
They finished 26 and 35 not out respectively, contributions that were almost equally as valuable as opener Ajinkya Rahane’s 91 and 58 from Gautam Gambhir.
England’s total was built around Jonathan Trott’s 98 not out off 116 deliveries. He added 101 with Kevin Pietersen, who made a stylish 64, while Samit Patel added late impetus with a brutal 43-ball unbeaten 70.
Cook, however, insists his charges must raise their standards further if they are to buck the trend on this tour - ahead of the penultimate ODI in Mumbai on Sunday.
“There’s always room for more and more,” he said. That’s what we need to do for us to improve as a side.
“We haven’t batted well on this tour in these (first) two games and then we did today. Then you think, ‘oh, why didn’t we get 320?’”
Cook was once more left paying tribute to Dhoni, whose wonderful unbeaten 87 set up India’s win in the series opener last Friday.
“A wicket there, and you’re right in the game,” added Cook, casting his mind to a scorecard that read 235 for five when Jadeja joined Dhoni at the crease, four wickets having fallen for 45.
“Credit to the way he hit those balls at the end. He’s done it time and time again, and not just us - it’s bowlers all over world cricket.
“Whatever plans we tried, he had the answer. He has made a fantastic career out of finishing games and he finished it again for them.”
Dhoni, for his part, reckoned India were also short of their best.
“It was a very good performance but we need to improve,” he said. “We gave away too many boundaries and that matters. If you don’t give too many boundaries the opposition won’t get 300-odd runs.
“We lost wickets at the wrong times and had to get a partnership going, which we did. It’s important to be consistent.”
As for the final two ODIs, Cook insisted: “We need to pick ourselves up when we’ve already lost the series. That is the challenge.
“You saw the desperation out there to try to win, and we’ve got to keep that desperation for the next two games.”