Bopara aims to pile on the pain for India

London: England batsman Ravi Bopara has set his sights on piling on the agony for India in a bid to cement his spot in Alastair Cook`s one-day team.

Although Bopara has 61 one-day international caps, his inconsistent form means he has never been able to nail down a place in England`s squad and the last three matches of the limited overs series against the beleaguered Indians offers a golden opportunity to do just that.

Bopara has only scored five half-centuries for England, with an average of just over 28, yet an injury to Eoin Morgan and Kevin Pietersen`s rest period means the Essex star is still firmly in captain Cook`s plans.

Morgan took Bopara`s place in the Test team against Sri Lanka earlier this year, but he is out of the rest of the one-day series and the 26-year-old knows he must take advantage, starting in the third match at The Oval on Friday.

Bopara, who made 24 in a 60-run stand with Cook to help England win the second one-dayer on Tuesday, said: "I was a bit surprised Eoin was not fit, but nevertheless I was told early enough and was given time to prepare.

"I`ve not been told I will definitely play the rest of the series, but obviously I`d like to play and fight for that spot.

"It`s a great chance to make it into the first XI and then perform and cement a place in the side.

"It`s a great chance, with guys resting and a few injuries about. There is a great opportunity to cement my place."

While Bopara hopes to take his chance, the real dangers to world champions India could be Cook and Craig Kieswetter.

England appeared to face a tough target on Tuesday after Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina had powered India to 187 for eight in a match reduced by rain to 23 overs per side under the Rose Bowl lights.

But openers Kieswetter and Cook raced to 67 in under seven overs to send Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s tourists crashing to yet another defeat after a 4-0 rout in the Test series and a loss in the lone Twenty20 international.

Bopara was impressed with England`s poise under pressure as they chased down the target and he added "The way we went about our business was unbelievable, especially some of the batters.

"I thought the way our batters went about chasing it was spot on.

"When I went in we obviously needed a few runs, and it was important I got a partnership going with Cookie.

"The most important thing was to keep our concentration on a pretty good wicket. We looked to be fairly positive and keep the bowlers under pressure."

India`s prowess in one-day matches has been unquestioned in recent years, but the draining effects of a miserable tour to England have left them vulnerable even in the short form of the game.

A host of injuries has decimated the squad, with Sachin Tendulkar the eighth Indian to be ruled out of the series after the batsman suffered a toe problem before the second game.

Skipper Dhoni admits he has few options left to freshen up a team low on morale and energy.

"We only have specialist bowlers left, which would mean going a batter light, and that is not something we are comfortable with," Dhoni said.

"We need the extra batsman because most of our batsmen play aggressive cricket.

"We try to come up with plans that may work, but not much has worked so far for us."

Bureau Report

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