Colombo: A chastened England will resume their faltering defence of the World Twenty20 later this week desperate to find a way to tackle spin after crashing to their biggest loss in T20 cricket.
India's spinners sent Stuart Broad's men packing for just 80 in Sunday's group A match in Colombo, a defeat of 90 runs. It was England's lowest total in the shortest format and their heaviest defeat.
Luckily for England, the capitulation came in a match of no consequence in terms of the tournament since both teams had qualified for the Super Eights stage after knocking minnows Afghanistan out. But the holders' failure to deal with spin will be of great concern to Broad, who attempted to play down the embarrassing loss.
"Any international defeat is really frustrating, especially when you put in a performance like that," Broad said."But it does not change our destiny a huge amount. Knowing that it does not change anything really - apart from us having to maybe face a few more spinners in the nets - is nice."
Broad also brushed aside suggestions that the team missed their best player of spin bowling - axed batsman Kevin Pietersen, who is in Colombo but only as a studio expert for the host broadcaster. "We've got these 15 guys here, and we've known that all along," the England captain said.
"We did not perform well with the bat, but we did in the last three or four games. It's important we focus on what we did well in those games and learn from what we did wrong against India."
England will travel to Pallekele for the Super Eights round starting on Thursday, where they are grouped with hosts Sri Lanka, New Zealand and either Ireland or the West Indies.
The collapse against spin also does not bode well for England beyond Sri Lanka - they begin a four-Test series in India next month. For India, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh marked his return to the team after a year with 4 for 12 and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla took 2 for 13.
At 60-9, England were in danger of falling below the smallest total ever in T20 internationals - 67 by Kenya against Ireland in 2008 - but the last-wicket pair of Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach prevented that humiliation.
Broad admitted his team was "a little bit sloppy" in allowing India to pile up 170 for 4 on the back of a half-century from Rohit Sharma and useful contributions from Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli. "We could have maybe held India to a slightly lower score," he said. "But we thought it was very chaseable. The wicket was pretty flat, it did not have pace in it."
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose team endured a 4-0 Test series defeat in England last year on seaming wickets, sympathised with England's woes against spin. "It is something that is a bit new and different to them," he said. "In the sub-continent when the wickets start turning, you have to be really careful when playing drives. But they are a very good side that has done really well in the last year. So you will see them adapt to conditions and get better in the future."