Alastair Cook has nowhere left to hide following India schooling

Jul 22 2014, 16:31 IST
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SummaryEngland skipper Alastair Cook is running out of time, excuses and places to hide after Mahendra Singh Dhoni's

England skipper Alastair Cook is running out of time, excuses and places to hide after Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India became the latest side to expose his weaknesses with a thumping victory at Lord's to open a 1-0 lead in their five-match series.

His bright start to life as England captain at the end of 2012 now appears like a dim and distant memory as Dhoni carried on a trend started by Australia's Michael Clarke before handing the baton on to Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews.

Cook's poor form and questionable leadership have come under intense scrutiny with some critics suggesting he should give up his place at the top of England's batting order and take a break from the game following Monday's painful 95-run defeat.

The England skipper has little time to rally his troops ahead of the third test starting in Southampton on Sunday, needing to lift his underperforming senior players and without the services of injured wicketkeeper Matt Prior for the rest of the series.

Cook's malaise began with the 5-0 Ashes rout in Australia, continued when a modest Sri Lanka eked out a 1-0 series win in England earlier this summer and was amplified by being forced to eat humble pie by an average Indian attack in his own backyard.

The gravity of the latest defeat gains even more perspective when it was carried out by a notoriously poor-travelling India side that had not tasted an away test victory since beating West Indies at Kingston in 2011.

Cook's captaincy in the Lord's test provided further ammunition to detractors like Shane Warne, a constant critic of the Essex player's "negative and boring" leadership.

England baffled the fans and pundits alike when Cook asked India to bat first at Lord's on a greenish wicket and their pacemen proceeded to dish out a barrage of ineffective bouncers in the first session of the test.

Similarly surprising was Cook's decision to spread the field for India's number 10 batsman Mohammad Shami, that too when his premier bowler James Anderson had the second new ball in his hand.

However, those frailties pale in comparison to how one-by-one his batsman succumbed to India's hook trap after lunch on the final day, bounced out with an old ball by an erratic Ishant Sharma, who needed to be goaded into bowling short by Dhoni.

"He's not scored a hundred in 27 innings, tactically he's been all

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