Alastair Cook wants to improve England balance


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The Independent Online

Alastair Cook knows his team have lacked grace as well as a cutting edge on their way to four successive one-day international defeats against India.

The England captain had to admit as much last night as he considered, after the six-wicket drubbing at the Wankhede Stadium, where the tourists have gone wrong.

There is precious little time before tomorrow's last match more than 1,000 miles away in Kolkata to address pressing issues arising from a performance which featured a predictable inability to defend an inadequate total of 220 all out, as well as more histrionics from some England players.


Steven Finn, the pick of Cook's bowlers throughout their unsuccessful tour, made his frustration clear when he shouted and gestured angrily after finally dismissing Suresh Raina.


The India batsman had by then shared a century stand with Virat Kohli, and the match was as good as up.


But Finn apologised to home captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and made it clear it was not his intention to abuse the opposition. Cook said: "There is always that balance, as we know, and part of our responsibility as a side is to get that.


"Sometimes on this tour, we might not have always got that balance - but I didn't see too much wrong this time."


As for Finn's heat-of-the-moment behaviour towards Raina, Cook added: "I've been on the back-end of quite a few send-offs myself.


"I'm not a bowler; you'll have to ask a mean fast bowler why they 'send them off'."


Cook had some less controversial explaining to do, on the subject of why England chose to rest their world number one bowler Graeme Swann on a pitch which - as widely predicted - favoured spinners.


Swann's absence left young leg-spinner Scott Borthwick to carry the expectation of taking wickets, after India's R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had done just that.


"Unfortunately, it's a dead series now for us - and it's not often in international cricket you get the chance to expose a young spinner to it in these circumstances," said Cook.


"That is the reason we wanted to expose Scotty, and I thought he bowled well - quite a lot better than his figures suggested, with the attacking fields we had to have to try to take wickets to have any chance of winning that game."


Cook deployed England's other spinner, Samit Patel, for just one full over before India cruised to victory.


"I thought, with the ball 'reversing' at the other end, our seamers were more likely to pick up a wicket than Samit.


"Scott's a leg-spinner, so he spins the ball more than Samit - and I thought they were the two more attacking options we had."


England must now concentrate on trying to avoid a whitewash, having themselves beaten India 3-0 on home turf just last month.


Dhoni and Co still have a point to prove, perhaps.


He said: "We wanted to win 5-0 in England, but we couldn't.


"It's not always just what you want - you have to play well.


"We'll try to win it 5-0. But the main motivation is just to go out there and play good cricket."