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India’s Ajinkya Rahane rails against England whitewash

India’s new opener, Ajinkya Rahane, still seemed impressed on Thursday about a visit to see Big Ben earlier this week but in reality the bell tolled for his team long ago.

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Rahane is one of the younger players who has added verve to India’s desperate tour but been unable to prevent England’s continuing dominance over proceedings. The hosts are targeting a 4-0 win in the 50-over series to go with the Test whitewash.

There is a sense India are ticking off the days until they can face England in their own backyard next month, when their senior players are expected to be fit. But for England this series is very much alive with each victory adding weight to Alastair Cook’s regeneration of the one-day team.

Set a tricky 188 in 23 overs at a wet Rose Bowl on Monday, England crushed India and set a marker for the rest of the series. India’s bowling attack has only managed seven wickets in the two completed limited-overs matches so far and England are confident of chasing any target.

“I hope so because we’ve played some unbelievable cricket this summer,” said Graeme Swann when asked if they have a realistic hope of a 4-0 win. “After we played superb cricket in the Tests you don’t want the one-day series to be a damp squib.

“It was like that in 2009 [after the Ashes win when England lost the one-day series 6-1] and although it didn’t take the polish off for any of the players, I’m sure it did for a few of the people watching, so it’s important we carry on this momentum.

“Also for the guys who haven’t been involved in the Tests, who have come into the one-day squad, it’s important they can be part of a successful team as well because we need all three forms of the game to be going in the right direction in the next two years.”

The Kia Oval promises runs on Friday with a decent weather forecast at last shining a light on a one-day series dented by the loss of star names on both sides. Such is the hunger for matches involving India that today’s game sold out within 24 hours of tickets going on sale last October and they will have plenty of support in south London.

Those fans will gain a glimpse of the future. Even though Swann had problems pronouncing Rahane’s first name he admitted the stand-ins have provided England with problems. “We’ve been given new challenges because of the high turnover of players and so it doesn’t feel like the same team we played against three or four weeks ago,” he said. “It feels like we’re still learning about the opposition so I wouldn’t say we go in thinking, ‘We’re going to trounce this lot today’. We go in really thinking there’s a game on our hands each time.”

Rahane has hit 150 off 130 balls so far and opening partner Parthiv Patel has taken on the Virender Sehwag job of knocking bowlers off their lengths.

England are without Eoin Morgan for the rest of the series and doubts over whether he will be fit for the India tour could persuade Cook and Andy Flower to stick with Ben Stokes, who so far has not had a chance to show he can provide the lower-order hitting that has been missing of late. But with Jonathan Trott, who was a victim of the reduced overs at the Rose Bowl, likely to return Stokes may have to wait a while longer.

England (likely): *A Cook, †C Kieswetter, J Trott, R Bopara, I Bell, S Patel, T Bresnan, S Broad, G Swann, J Dernbach, J Anderson.

India (probable): A Rahane, P Patel, R Dravid, V Kohli, S Raina, *†MS Dhoni, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, P Kumar, V Kumar , M Patel.

England’s five-month lay-off from Test cricket has persuaded the management to build two weeks of warm-up matches into the start of their tour to the United Arab Emirates, where they will play Pakistan in January and February. The Test series begins on Jan 17.

ITINERARY – Jan 3 England depart for UAE. 7-9 warm-up match. 11-13 warm-up match 17-21 1st Test v Pakistan (Dubai) 25-29 2nd Test (Abu Dhabi) Feb 3-7 3rd Test (Dubai) 10 warm-up match (Abu Dhabi) 13 1st ODI v Pakistan (Abu Dhabi) 15 2nd ODI (Abu Dhabi) 18 3rd ODI (Dubai) 21 4th ODI (Dubai) 23 1st T20 (Dubai) 25 2nd T20 (Dubai) 27 3rd T20 (Dubai).

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