England suffer heavy loss

England crashed to defeat in the Goan heat as India opened up a 3-0 lead in the one-day series.

The 49-run margin of victory at the Nehru Stadium would have been more emphatic but for a century stand at better than a-run-a-ball between Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones, from a position of 100 for six.

Chasing an improbable 295-run target, Collingwood kept the tourists' slimmest of hopes alive with his usual canny batting as he flicked ones and twos amongst his boundaries.

He dominated the partnership with Jones, which concluded when his partner swung to deep square leg.

Having struck 93 from 84 deliveries, Collingwood succumbed in similar manner when he hoisted Harbhajan Singh to deep midwicket.

England lost half their side in a poor start as left-arm swing bowler Irfan Pathan went through the top order.

Two slower balls did for Andrew Strauss and Ian Blackwell - promoted to number three in the quest for quick runs - while Owais Shah sliced to point.

Only Matt Prior appeared at ease on the sluggish surface but he was fourth out for a well-constructed 37 when he pushed Harbhajan Singh into the off side, set off for a single which was not there and was sent back by Flintoff.

Flintoff followed in Ramesh Powar's first over when he slog-swept straight to deep midwicket to leave England.

And Vikram Solanki perished when he flicked to midwicket off Harbhajan Singh.

Earlier, Yuvraj Singh's destructive hundred left the tourists wilting.

Former Yorkshire batsman Yuvraj struck his seventh one-day international hundred from only 73 deliveries as the hosts made the most of winning the toss to post 294 for six.

Fellow left-hander Suresh Raina joined in a late assault to share 142 runs for the fifth wicket and register his second half-century in three days.

England's hopes of a crucial victory in the seven-match campaign were hit prior to the start as Kevin Pietersen, the reigning International Cricket Council one-day player of the year, was ruled out with a stomach bug.

With the lack of pace in the pitch, his kind of power and ability to clear the infield would have been ideal.

It was that kind of approach which served Yuvraj so well as he lofted three sixes into the stands at midwicket and hit 10 fours before he succumbed to England captain Flintoff at the death.

In all 98 runs were plundered in the final 10 overs as the middle-order made the most of the platform which had been laid for them by Rahul Dravid and pinch-hitter Pathan.

England's toil in the humidity had been rewarded with three mid-innings wickets in five overs which reduced the home team to 131 for four.

But the testing conditions and an adventurous Indian approach conspired against an England side lacking so many first-choice players.

Sajid Mahmood, recalled after a near two-year absence in place of Kabir Ali, suffered the most as he struggled through regular cramps to finish with nought for 66 from eight overs.

It was the final one of his octet which was most costly as Suresh and Yuvraj each cleared the ropes in an over which went for 21.

Although Flintoff dismissed both batsmen in the late mayhem to finish with a three-wicket bag, it was Lancashire colleague James Anderson who was pick of the bowlers with figures of 9-1-40-1.

Coach Duncan Fletcher returned to the squad in time for the toss, having escorted his ill wife Marina back to their Cape Town home over the weekend.

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