It had been such a positive start for the tourists with a comfortable win in the opening match but with one last game to play, the series is already over as India and England prepare to play the final ODI in Dharamsala (3.30am GMT, Sunday).
Alastair Cook’s men did show signs of improvement in the fourth match but can they build on that to claim a consolation victory in this final game of a long tour?
Whilst England’s batsmen managed to compile a more defendable total in the most recent contest, the bowlers struggled badly and there should be some changes ahead of this final match. Jade Dernbach is the main concern and after the Surrey man was taken for more than six an over in Mohali, he is likely to be replaced by either his county colleague Stuart Meaker or the Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes.
The only real bowling success on this tour has been Kent spinner James Tredwell and it’s surprising that England haven’t called up the left arm spin of Danny Briggs to form a specialist slow bowling attack. Hampshire’s Briggs may be another new name in the side ahead of Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan.
As far as the batting is concerned, England have no more options, having called in Jos Buttler to replace the hopelessly out of form Craig Kieswetter. So the tourists’ top seven is likely to be unchanged for this final game.
India are in the happy position of having no such concerns and even Rohit Sharma managed to find some form against a weak-looking English attack. Sharma had endured a poor series against the Sri Lankans recently but his 83 at the top of the order steered India’s run chase in Mohali.
The home side have greater strength in batting depth too and while England’s middle order have found it difficult to make runs consistently, the Indians have a centre core of Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Ravi Jadeja who can rebuild an innings when required. In the fourth match, it was number five Raina who carried India home with an unbeaten 89 while chasing what might have been a challenging total of 257.
India’s bowling looks a settled unit too, even though the strike pair of Ahmed and Khumar went wicketless in Mohali. This time, England struggled against spin with Jadeja and R Ashwin taking the bulk of the wickets.
Unless the selectors choose to give some of the fringe players a game, India will be unchanged for this fifth and final match and the hosts really hold the key to this contest. Even if changes are made, the English bowling attack is clearly missing its three most experienced players – Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad.
None of those three absentees will be here for the climax of this series and while many are looking to back a stereotypical consolation victory for England, I fully expect India to dominate and take yet another win.
This Preview’s Betting Tip: India to win at 8/13 with William Hill.