Fifty-over cricket has never been England's forte in India to the extent that 16 of the past 18 internationals they have played there have been lost and another, during the last World Cup, tied.
It is hardly an encouraging record but England have arrived in India for the latest round of five matches as the No1 ranked side determined to avenge the five-nil whitewash suffered at the hands of MS Dhoni's team a year ago.
They have not made the most promising of starts, losing to India A by 53 runs in a match reduced to 39 overs a side because of the freezing early mist that can shroud Delhi at this time of year.
India may argue that the result has greater resonance than it seems for the match took place in the sort of temperature familiar to anyone who has played at Derby in April. Perhaps England are more used to warm weather training these days. The next warm-up game is at Feroz Shah Kotla, also in Delhi, but this may well come to be seen as balmy: the penultimate match is at the stunningly beautiful ground at Dharamsala, in the Himalayan foothills, where the temperature on Saturday night plunged to -7C. Whoever has the wicketkeeping gloves will be glad of them.
Ashley Giles, newly in charge of England's one-day sides, has some work to do. The next World Cup is to be played in Australia and New Zealand and so there is no imperative to gain extra experience of subcontinental pitches. As a result England's rotation policy means that key players such as Jimmy Anderson, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann have been rested, while another, Stuart Broad, is still recovering from injury and will not join the tour until later.
For the first match the captain, Alastair Cook, also sat things out and he and Giles will not have been impressed by the way England's batting folded in pursuit of India A's 224 for four, which included an opening stand of 118 between Abhinav Mukund, who made 57, and Murali Vijay (76) and a further unbeaten 52 from Kedar Jadhav.
England slumped to 72 for six inside 20 overs and only Ian Bell, who opened with Kevin Pietersen (likely to drop to three when Cook returns and four when Trott also comes back) maintained any momentum, scoring 91 from 89 balls with eight boundaries and two sixes, before he was ninth out with nine balls of the match remaining. By then the game had long since been lost.
Meanwhile, at Feroz Shah Kotla Dhoni's team, thanks to an excellent bowling and fielding performance, and one of those incomprehensible Pakistan batting collapses, gained a consolation win in the low-scoring third and final ODI to prevent a whitewash.
India's squad for the first three matches against England will be unchanged apart from the replacement of Virender Sehwag – veteran of 249 matches and one of the most dangerous openers the game has seen – with Cheteshwar Pujara, who batted so promisingly against England in the recent Test series. If Sehwag's demotion is not a particular surprise, given his relative lack of runs and ponderous fielding, the retention of Rohit Sharma, who has scored 17 runs in his past six innings, has raised some eyebrows.
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image: © Steve Hodgson