India captain MS Dhoni has insisted his side will continue to fight in the remaining one-day matches against England despite suffering another defeat at The Oval on Friday.
With just two matches remaining, Dhoni’s side can now only draw the five-match series and will hope to avoid a similar scenario as experienced in the Test series whitewash.
India had battled back from 58-5 to post a respectable total of 234-7 in their 50 overs thanks to 78 from Ravindra Jadeja and 69 from Dhoni.
But the world champions’ hopes of recording a first win over England on this tour were dashed as Craig Kieswetter blasted 51 from 46 balls to get the hosts off to a good start before Ravi Bopara’s 40 from 41 balls saw them reach the Duckworth-Lewis target of 218 with seven balls to spare.
Injury-ravaged India — now missing eight senior stars including Sachin Tendulkar — have lost all four Tests, the lone Twenty20 international and two of the three one-dayers, with the other rained off.
Yet Dhoni is adamant his young team of back-ups will keep fighting in the final two matches at Lord’s on Sunday and Cardiff next week.
“The boys are still very excited. Whenever they turn up they want to give 100 percent so when it comes to the motivational factor we are not down and out,” Dhoni said.
“It’s not like we didn’t try. We have been out-played and haven’t had the luck at times but the morale is quite good. It is important not to get depressed.”
Yet Dhoni admitted India had only themselves to blame for their latest defeat, getting off to poor starts in both innings.
England’s Jimmy Anderson took three wickets to leave India reeling in the early stages of their innings, while poor bowling allowed Kieswetter and Alastair Cook to give the hosts a flying start to their chase.
“You have to be at your best in the whole match, we gave away a lot of runs in the first 10 overs and it is not the first time it has happened,” Dhoni said.
“It is becoming a bit difficult after that to really put pressure on the batsmen.
“The other problem was we didn’t get a good start to our innings. Hardly any batsman scored and it was down to the lower order that we got up to 230.”
India’s best chance to get back in the match came when Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin found some spin under the lights and reduced England to 133-5.
But an hour’s rain delay allowed England to recover their composure, leaving Dhoni to reflect on the few positives.
“The biggest positive is it looks as if we have the five bowlers. We were struggling with the fifth bowler, someone will have an off-day and go for runs and in that case you need an extra bowler to fill in those overs,” he said.
“Seeing Jadeja score those runs was nice as well. That is the other positive.”
England captain Cook was delighted with the way Bopara, who has been under pressure after some lacklustre performances, coped with the pressure of steering his team home.
Bopara was only playing after Eoin Morgan suffered an injury, but he did his chances of securing a place on the one-day tour to India no harm with a confident innings.
“The biggest positive is way we handled pressure at the end. Big credit to Ravi for the way he played,” Cook said.
“Eoin is an outstanding player and it is gutting news that he will miss a substantial amount of cricket.
“But it gives an opportunity for someone to nail down a spot, like Ravi did today. He might not have been playing if Eoin was fit.”
England can go above India into fourth in the one-day rankings if they win the last two matches, but Cook is only focusing on clinching a series triumph by winning at Lord’s.
“I’m delighted to be 2-0 up but we’ve come here to win the series,” he said.
“There are always areas to look at and learn from. It is a quick turn-around before the next game at Lord’s and we have to focus on that.”