Kevin Pietersen has escaped with a warning for showing dissent at his dismissal in Saturday's drubbing in Ranchi but not from his share of the responsibility for the consecutive defeats that have left England scrambling to stay in the series.
Pietersen lingered at the crease and finally departed shaking his head after being given out caught behind off a ball from Ishant Sharma that seemed to have brushed his thigh, a key moment that triggered England's collapse from 68 for one to 155 all out and inevitable defeat. Ashley Giles, England's one-day coach, confirmed when the team arrived in Chandigarh on Sunday that Andy Pycroft, the referee for the series, had a quiet word with Pietersen during the journey west from Ranchi and that no further action will be taken.
But it is the failure of any of England's four senior batsmen – Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan and the captain Alastair Cook – to post a substantial innings in either of the last two games that is a cause of greater concern to Giles, whose side now trail 2-1 in his first series in charge.
All four made promising starts in Rajkot, with Bell's 85 remaining the highest individual score on either side, Cook not far behind with 75 and Pietersen and Morgan both out in the 40s as England posted a total of 325 – more than they have managed in the last two matches combined. But in the second game, in Kochi, Bell fell cheaply, Cook for 17 to a poor lbw decision, Pietersen for 42 and Morgan for a duck.
It was a similar story in Ranchi with Pietersen unlucky but Cook, Bell and Morgan all out trying to force the pace after reaching double figures. Giles reflected on that collective failure rather than a duck for Craig Kieswetter as the root cause of England's problems.
"It's easy to identify one or two players who might be in the firing line, that always happens, but we need all our guys to stand up and we need the senior guys to stand up as well," he said. "We've got an experienced top order bar Joe Root and the way we play our cricket we need one of those guys to get us a score. If they can do that, then we bat round them and it enables the guys from five downwards to play with a bit more freedom. Then you get your bigger totals, which is what happened at Rajkot."
Root has faced more balls than anyone in making 36 and 39 in Kochi and Ranchi and there must now be an argument for promoting him to the No3 position usually filled by Jonathan Trott – who will join the squad for their series in New Zealand next month – thereby providing Pietersen with more protection from the new ball and boosting the chances of him being able to take advantage of the new fielding regulations later in the innings.
Giles would not be drawn on either positional or personnel changes ahead of discussions with Cook but hinted that at least a couple of the three players yet to make an appearance – Jos Buttler, Stuart Meaker and Danny Briggs – would be used in the remaining games. "Part of this trip is to look at those options because we're missing some senior players," he added. "This is where you find out about people, under pressure."
Kieswetter has played in all 34 of England's one-day internationals since June 2011, whereas his Somerset team-mate Buttler, who is three years younger, has made a single 50-over appearance, against Pakistan in Dubai last February . Then Buttler played as a specialist batsman and was out for a duck, with Kieswetter keeping wicket and scoring 43.
Jade Dernbach would seem the bowler most likely to make way for Meaker, having conceded 187 runs in 24 overs in the series – lifting his economy rate in a 21-match ODI career to 6.28 runs per over, the worst for anyone who has bowled that often. "It's tough on Jade because he's played a lot of cricket here [India] and it's a hard place to come and play," said Giles. "But again you have to adapt. What the Indians have done very well is hold lengths and lines, so you have to go at them to try to score. Really that's what we've got to do."
Any remote chance of Stuart Broad adding to England's options for the rest of the series has been scuppered by the snow which prevented him from flying out to Chandigarh at the weekend.He will now link up with the squad when they move on to Aucklandon Mondayweek.
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