~~Series whitewash looms large over England~~

Published: Monday, April 3, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:After England's abject surrender in the first three One-dayers against India, the media here feels that the series is as good as over for the Ashes winners and a 7-0 whitewash is imminent.

The Daily Telegraph declares that ''at 3-0 down with four to play, the contest is effectively over and the only remaining purpose of these games is to test potential candidates for next year's World Cup.

''Selection, skill levels, morale, all of these could be called into question. But, the biggest worry of all must be Andrew Flintoff,'' its correspondent Simon Briggs wrote.

The daily went onto to say that the usually cheerful Flintoff ''was lacking his usual joie de vivre and England's Atlas is carrying this arduous tour on his shoulders.'' With the headline ''Honeymoon reaches an abrupt end for Flintoff and England'', The Times wrote ''nothing in proceedings to date has offered any hope that Duncan Fletcher has the depth of resources available to plug gaps during the World Cup next year.''

''England's third defeat was their worst of the series to date and the image of Flintoff crouched with hand on helmet after slog sweeping to his downfall crystallised a roasting day when little went right,'' its correspondent Richard Hobson wrote.

The newspaper said the Test win in Bombay 13 days ago seemed a distant memory for both England and a rejuvenated India.

With the headline ''One-day of reckoning looms for frazzled Flintoff and England'', The Guardian conceded that the Indians now eye a series whitewash of under-performing tourists.

Its correspondent Lawrence Booth said England's determination to put the debacle of the last three World Cups behind them and hit the ground running in the Caribbean next March feels wishful thinking right now.

''The England captain Andrew Flintoff was wearing an increasingly haunted look last night after his side went 3-0 down in a series that is beginning to feel like men against boys. It is not over yet -- that could happen in Cochin on Thursday -- but yesterday England played as if, deep down, they might quite like it to be. India, meanwhile, will have one eye on a whitewash,'' the newspaper said.

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