A little late, but the Australians finally found their footing after three losses to beat India by 21 runs in the fourth ODI played at Bengaluru on Thursday. This was their first victory in the five-match series.
Both teams endured a reversal of fate at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium. The 9-match winning streak of the hosts was halted by the Steve Smith's side, while they also dumped their run of 11 consecutive loss in away ODIs.
Batting first, Australia posted a mammoth total of 334, thanks to their openers - David Warner and Aaron. Warner smashed his 14th ton in his 100th ODI, while Finch scored 94 to continue his good run with the bat. In reply, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Kedar Jadhav struck fifties to push India's cause. But the failure of the middle-order towards the ended costed India the match.
Here are the three reasons behind India's first loss in the series.
India's poor death bowling
The Chinnaswamy ground-staff deserve credit for the gripping game. Unlike the 2017 IPL, the Bengaluru pitch was more conducive for batting this time around and that made for an exciting contest. Batsmen from both sides freed their hands on the belter and teams' death bowling proved to be the decisive factor.
India decided to bring in Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami into the side, in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. The duo has not played much cricket lately and that resulted into spillage of runs in death-overs.
Australia scored 58 runs in the last five overs, 28 of which came in the last 2 overs. The flurry of runs towards the end helped the visitors convert their score into a daunting total, considering with the Aussies on 304/6 from 48 overs, India were eyeing a much smaller target than 335.
On the other hand, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Pat Cummins executed their job to perfection towards the fag end. Virat Kohli's side needed 53 in the last 5 overs, not a tough task in the T20 generation. But the Aussies only allowed "Men in Blue' to score 31 runs. The Kangaroos also struck four times in that period to blunt the Indian axe.
Rohit Sharma's bizarre run-out
Indian started the chase on the front foot, taking the bull by its horn. Rahane and Rohit helped India get off to a flyer as they put up 106 runs for the first wicket in no time. Rohit continued the good work even after Rahane's dismissal until the awful mix-up with skipper Kohli cut his stay short at the crease.
The Mumbai batsman made 65 off 55 deliveries before being run-out in the 23rd over. Kohli's cut to the backward point was superbly fielded by Smith. Kohli asked his partner not go for a single but Rohit's poor decision making meant both ended up on the same end, while the bails were taken off on the other.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli battingResult: Run Out again!— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) September 28, 2017
The dismissal proved to be the turning point of India's chase. The batsman looked in a sublime form till he lasted. Five of his six boundaries were sixes. And a longer stay on the field could have meant a different end to the story.
Pushing MS Dhoni to No. 7 position
Dhoni's star powers with the bat is on wane and it's no secret. Despite the knowledge, Kohli decided to send him to bat in at No. 7. The wicket-keeper batsman has helped India to finish off matches in recent times, but he was never the cornerstone of those chases.
He is more of an enabler in this team rather than a finisher. While the decision to send Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav ahead of Dhoni made perfect sense and helped India to sustain the momentum in the middle overs. Dhoni should have come ahead of Manish Pandey at No. 6.
The move would have allowed the veteran to absorb the pressure and score quickly, while Pandey could have handled the pressure of slog overs. The Ranchi lad walked in to bat in the 46th over with India needing 49 runs more to win. Naturally, he struggled to find his rhythm in the short space of time and departed after a 13-run cameo, leaving India in the lurch.
Feature image: AFP