ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook admitted he was shell-shocked after an almighty batting collapse saw India complete a 5-0 series whitewash with a 95-run victory in Kolkata.
After winning the toss and opting to field first, England’s bowlers repaid Cook’s faith by restricting the hosts to 162-5, but a late onslaught led by MS Dhoni, who finished unbeaten on 75 from 69 balls, meant India posted a competitive total of 271-8.
A century opening stand between Cook and Craig Kieswetter meant England looked on course to seal a consolation victory, but the skipper’s dismissal for 60 triggered a staggering demise from 129-0 to 176 all out in the space of just 16 overs.
“It’s a bit of a shock, that,” said Cook. “We were in with a shout at 120-odd for nought and just got blown away at the end. It was very disappointing.
“We know you can lose wickets in clusters and we seem to have lost 10 there in a cluster.
“We set up the game beautifully to go on and win that but credit to the way they bowled and we played a couple of poor shots. It was a bit of a disappointing end and a bit of a common theme.”
Of England’s last eight batsmen only Samit Patel and Graeme Swann made it to double figures, with a middle order of Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara and Johnny Bairstow contributing just 13 runs between them.
“When you lose 10 for 50 you’re not going to win anything,” added Cook. “We haven’t batted well enough on this tour, and that really just caps it off.
“We bowled really well. We know how hard it is against Dhoni, and credit to him again for getting them to probably a slightly above-par total.
“But I thought the way Steven Finn bowled especially was outstanding again, as he has been on this tour. Then at 130 for nought, their total almost looked quite a long way short.
“But our batting hasn’t been good enough, and that’s why we’ve lost these games.”
England beat India 3-0 in the same format just last month. But the memory of that apparent superiority has fast become faint and distant.
Cook said: “Possibly back in the summer, if things were going well at 130 for nought we’d have probably walked that. But when the confidence isn’t great and you lose a couple of quick wickets it’s hard to stem their flow – especially when their confidence is so high.
“There was certainly no throwing in of the towel, the way we handled ourselves and kept trying. Unfortunately, our skills weren’t good enough out there.”