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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Jonathan Agnew column

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Rajkot

Yuvraj Singh hits Andrew Flintoff for a chipped six
Yuvraj's short-arm jab for six over Andrew Flintoff's head will live long in the memory

England will claim the Stanford Twenty20 match in Antigua and the recent warm-up game in Mumbai have no relevance to today's humiliation, but the fact is they have now been thrashed in three of their last four outings.

No matter that the previous games were not proper internationals, all heavy defeats take their toll and, like it or not, England face a dreadfully tough week.

With matches coming along at such a rate now, there is plenty of scope to turn things around, but there is also a real danger that this tough schedule could contribute to a series of defeats.

This presents Kevin Pietersen with the greatest test of his fledgling captaincy.

Not a man to tolerate personal failure, he now has to understand and appreciate the team's predicament and the need for the captain to play a leading role in lifting their battered morale.

So too, Peter Moores the coach who, in my view, had a very poor week in Antigua and whose position is now under the spotlight.

He should have detected that, mentally, England were not prepared for the Stanford match and done something about it.

We have heard enough about him "taking positives" out of everything - if he can seriously claim to find anything remotely positive out of these three thrashings, he is fooling himself.

Yuvraj's innings was astonishing, not least because a back problem necessitated the need for a runner.


He called for the runner when he had scored 37. He then smashed 101 from just 41 balls! I am surprised the umpires allowed him to get away with it.

Mind you, if I were Pietersen, I would have objected to the umpires' decision when, apparently oblivious to his injury, Yuvraj continued to smash the ball all over Rajkot.

He is an unusual batsman in that he combines grace and aesthetic beauty with tremendous power. His short-arm jab for six over Andrew Flintoff's head, for instance, will live long in the memory, and he is tremendously strong through the off side.

So it is on to Indore for Monday's match, and with England having only one practice day to get things right.

We have heard a lot about needing to focus on the job in hand this past fortnight, both in Antigua and Mumbai which, again, is something that concerns me.

Frankly, if memories of Rajkot are not enough to stir Pietersen's team, nothing will, and they need to win in Indore to halt this alarming slide.

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see also
Dismal England thrashed by India
14 Nov 08 |  England
Pietersen praises 'super' India
14 Nov 08 |  England
India v England: 1st ODI photos
14 Nov 08 |  England
England's Indian challenge
12 Nov 08 |  England
Pietersen calm after dismal loss
11 Nov 08 |  England
England collapse to heavy defeat
11 Nov 08 |  England
Flintoff ton sets up England win
09 Nov 08 |  England
Tendulkar rested for one-dayers
05 Nov 08 |  Cricket
England in India 2008
14 Nov 08 |  Cricket

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