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Jonathan Agnew column

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Kanpur

Owais Shah in action in Kanpur
Owais Shah has always looked more comfortable at number six to me - he has the knack of hitting the ball in unusual places

The farcical and thoroughly unsatisfactory finish should not detract from the fact that India were the deserving winners for the third game on the trot.

They played the cannier game in conditions that were always likely to deny us all a proper climax, and England were a good 30 runs away from setting a seriously competitive target.

All of that having been said, how embarrassing it is that another international match, featuring some of the world's best cricketers, should end this way.

The regulations were drawn up and agreed by both teams before the start of the series, and these stated that flood lights would not be used in day games.

The problem is that here, in the northern half of India, the light fades early at this time of year and Kanpur's mixture of lingering mist and pungent smog merely exacerbated the problem.

Kevin Pietersen was quite right to ask for a review of the conditions for the sixth game in Guwahati where, being further north and east of here, the issue of bad light is likely to be even worse. The match is already scheduled for a local time start of 0830am!

England's revised batting order, led by Ravi Bopara, batted more positively at the start, but was let down by the soft dismissals of Pietersen and Paul Collingwood.

Bopara spent the day in bed yesterday with an upset stomach but played some good shots in his 60 and this sudden decision might yet prove the making of him.

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Owais Shah has always looked more comfortable at number six to me - he has the knack of hitting the ball in unusual places - and it has to be sensible to get Pietersen at the fall of the first wicket.

But the introduction of the batting team's powerplay has surely exposed England's attempt to get by with just four front-line bowlers as unworkable.

It is virtually impossible to fiddle 10 overs out of second string bowlers when, as captain, you are also keeping back two of your front-line bowlers for the powerplay.

It was with that in mind that India were able to pace their innings so easily at the end, and England were powerless to do anything about it.

Pietersen observed that England are getting better and, bit by bit, they are but they remain some distance off the pace.

They might nick a game somewhere over the remaining fortnight, but I would not guarantee it.

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see also
India secure win in fading light
20 Nov 08 |  England
India v England: 3rd ODI photos
20 Nov 08 |  England
Dismal England thrashed by India
14 Nov 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
17 Nov 08 |  England
England in India 2008
20 Nov 08 |  Cricket


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