Another Rohit Sharma century – his second on the bounce – went in vain. A brilliant 89 off 80 deliveries from Ajinkya Rahane and a 121-run third wicket partnership with his Mumbai mate proved to be futile. Bowling yet again let India down badly. MS Dhoni was spot on in his post-match wrap: “…Looking at everything we have to score 330-plus to make a game out of it.”
Three Indian fast bowlers, Barinder Sran, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, gave away 185 runs for two wickets in the 29 overs they bowled. Spinners, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, conceded 110 runs in 19 overs, accounting for just one scalp. Shaun Marsh had been allowed reprieves on 19, 58 and 69. Eleven wides and a no-ball had been bowled. Little wonder then that Australia gunned down a victory target of 309 with ridiculous ease to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.
This begs a question. Will India be better off with another specialist bowler in the line-up? They have a seam-bowling allrounder in Rishi Dhawan. Batting paradises had been laid out in the first two matches and maybe India played one batsman too many. But the captain thinks a six-five combination is a luxury in this format of the game. He puts the onus on the batsmen to up their strike-rates. The visitors once again finished about 25 runs short despite, another 300-plus total notwithstanding.
In fact, 350 looked achievable today with India sitting pretty on 233/2 after 40 overs. But Rohit fell prey to an unlucky run out and Dhoni was deceived by a Scott Boland slower. When Rahane was holed out in the deep in the penultimate over, India were on 298/5. They could only manage 10 runs in the final nine deliveries of their innings.
It was a mini turning point. Still the bowlers had a substantial total to play with. Away from home, however, they have had a habit of serving up freebies.
Ashwin provides a perfect example. Not many moons ago, the Tamil Nadu off-spinner was looking like a world-beater on subcontinent pitches. But now it’s the same old story of losing his cutting edge on the flat decks in Australia. Ashwin even appeared to be a little sort of confidence on Friday, bowling a restrictive line and not attacking the batsmen enough. He might lose his place as the ODI bandwagon heads to Melbourne. India once again missed Mohammed Shami.
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