after their sixth straight defeat on the tour, India couldn't help but admire the rapid progress England have made under Andy Flower. This series has been a case of what India can do, England can do better. A perfect example was witnessed at The Rose Bowl on Tuesday.
When India, put into bat, amassed 187, it looked like they had the total to test England. To their dismay, the hosts got home in a canter, with seven wickets to spare. The loss would have extinguished what little hopes the visitors had nursed of avenging the Test humiliation.
With three games to go, pocketing the one-day series looks beyond Dhoni & Co. At the end of the rain-truncated second game, the body language reflected their helplessness. Beyond batting and bowling, the way Ian Bell strode around the field and pulled off a spectacular catch is the kind of moment that lifts your team and demoralises the opposition.
In the final over, Manoj Tiwary had connected and chosen his spot well, hitting Tim Bresnan back over his head, but Bell sprinted in from wide long-on to take a flying catch.
The stunt was beyond any in the visiting XI who were on the park. The fine exhibition of boundary fielding epitomised the vibrancy of England's performance.
The lack of a strike bowler was badly felt by India. The wet ball, due to dew, neutralised Praveen Kumar's swing, and Munaf Patel, at best, can restrict the batsmen. R Ashwin was outshone by Graeme Swann, who grabbed three wickets.
If Parthiv Patel gave India a flying start, Craig Kieswetter neutralised it with a belligerent 46 from 25 balls. India's other opener, Ajinkya Rahane, played another impressive knock but captain Alastair Cook went one better, scoring an unbeaten 80.
For a team to put up a fight, they should first have self-belief. The Indian skipper admitted he was clueless: "In the first five overs nothing worked for us. It became difficult once the ball got wet," Dhoni said.
"None of our fast bowlers are genuinely quick. They look to swing the ball, and when it does not happen as it is wet, it becomes difficult. Once Vinay Kumar and Praveen went for runs, I thought it would be good to give the off spinner a chance. But even he went for quite a few."
Dhoni's biggest handicap is the inability to get the right balance. Without an all-rounder, Dhoni is forced to rely on part-time bowlers Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli to fill in the fifth bowler's slot. Their four overs cost 35 runs.
"When you have the fifth bowler, you can manoeuvre the bowlers but with Kohli and Raina that is becoming difficult," he said. On Rahane, who needed a runner, Dhoni said he would recover in time.