It would need remarkable restraint from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli not to give the ‘hairdryer’ treatment to their teammates.
One can only sympathise with Sharma’s frustration - in his last four innings against Australia in Australia, he has three hundreds, 138, 171 not out and 124 - all in defeats. Thanks to another sub-par showing by his bowling unit, for all his epic innings, he is fast gaining a dubious reputation – of not being a matchwinner.
It’s a similar story for Kohli - his last four ODI innings have yielded scores of 91, 59, 117 and 106 -- all in a losing cause.
Sharing Sharma’s frustration will be Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane. Kohli, Rahane and Dhawan combined to put the pressure on the home team, with a 300 plus total for the second straight game, but there was no support forthcoming.
Save for the young Barinder Sran, none of the bowlers were up to the challenge at the Brisbane Cricket Ground on Friday. Given their body language in the field once the Australian batsmen got stuck into then, there’s little hope for the visitors of fighting back into the series.
When a rigid Dhoni ignored the conditions and decided a three-pace, two-spin combination, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav were expected to lead the way, being the seasoned campaigners. The utter lack of discipline in their effort was shocking. An injured finger can affect your feel of the ball at the time of release, but for a top professional the lack of rhythm in the run-up was shocking. He was guilty of bowling an unpardonable eight wides as a sorry India conceded 19 extras. Worse was his lax attitude on the field where he dropped a sitter offered by Shaun Marsh when he was on 19. It rubbed on to the others and the level of India’s fielding was abysmal with the left-hander opener given three more reprieves in his innings of 71.
For all his ability, there’s no guarantee of how Yadav will turn up. Unfortunately for India on Friday, it was his erratic version that turned up at the Gabba.
Till the 16th over, India had the brakes on the Aussie openers, Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch, restricting their progress to 68 with both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja starting well, taking over from Sran’s sharp early spell.
Dhoni replaced Jadeja with Yadav in the 17th over and that was the end of India’s challenge in the game. Yadav conceded 11, 4 and 16 runs in the 17th, 19th and 21st overs to release the pressure, undoing the early good work. It looked a case of brain freeze for the India captain for making the move for it upset Jadeja’s rhythm too. When Dhoni brought him on again in the 23rd over, the Australian batsmen had taken control, plundering 15 runs. It was game over.
In Canberra on Wednesday, the Indians had managed to arrest Australia’s momentum just a bit with five wickets for 37 runs before Glenn Maxwell’s 20-ball knock of 41 undid the good work. The Australians managed to plunder 29 runs in the last two overs.
Poor bowling in the death continues to hurt Team India.