England slump to fifth loss
Skipper's century in vain for beleaguered tourists
Last Updated: 26/11/08 6:55pm
Pietersen: presided over another defeat
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England went down to their fifth consecutive one-day international defeat in India, losing by six wickets in Cuttack.
After being asked to bat, Kevin Pietersen's unbeaten 111 led the tourists to 270-4, their highest score of the series.
But Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar shared an opening stand of 136 in 19.5 overs to turn India's floodlit run chase into a formality.
Sehwag was denied a hundred when Stuart Broad (1-54) won a dubious lbw decision, although his 73-ball effort of 91 made things easy for his middle-order colleagues to finish off the job.
Tendulkar (50) and Yuvraj Singh (6) had exited shortly before Sehwag to leave India on 156-3, but well ahead of the required rate.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina took a largely risk-free approach to share 94 in 17.5 overs to move India to the brink of victory.
Dhoni survived an early appeal for a stumping off Graeme Swann, the third umpire ruled in favour of India's captain - replays suggested it was a marginal call.
Off-spinner Swann (1-56) eventually got his man, Dhoni trapped lbw immediately after bringing up his 25th one-day international half-century, but Raina (54no) and Rohit Sharma (8no) completed the win with 38 balls to spare.
Adding to England's misery was a hamstring injury suffered by Broad. The Nottinghamshire seamer left the field clutching his left leg mid-way through his ninth over and did not return.
Defeats at Rajkot, Indore, Kanpur and Bangalore prompted changes to England's starting XI. Alastair Cook replaced Ian Bell at the top of the order and Steve Harmison came in for James Anderson, who failed to take a wicket in the first four matches.
The all-Essex opening partnership of Cook and Ravi Bopara did not make much use of the early fielding restrictions, both falling to Zaheer Khan inside the first 10 overs.
Cook (11), playing his first one-day international since June, departed in the sixth over chasing a wide delivery from Zaheer Khan and edging to Tendulkar at slip.
Bopara (24) followed four overs later when his forcing stroke went straight to backward point, leaving Pietersen and Paul Collingwood to rebuild.
The third-wicket pair constructed a sensible 89-run partnership and had just started to up the tempo when Collingwood drove Harbhajan Singh (1-47) to long-on for 40.
And the innings was in the balance when Ishant Sharma (1-54) had Andrew Flintoff caught at slip for a three-ball duck.
But Pietersen took command of the situation to ensure there was no repeat of the type of middle-order meltdowns which have been a feature of England's displays during the tour.
He was content to rotate the strike with new batsman Owais Shah and did not seem unduly troubled when the pair were restricted to just 32 runs from the five overs of batting power play.
Pietersen finally reached his seventh one-day international century with three overs remaining, bringing up the landmark off 119 balls, while Shah contributed an unbeaten 66 off 57 balls to their 112-run stand.
England have two more opportunities to avoid a whitewash in the seven-match series, at Guwahati on Saturday and Delhi three days later.