India will have to make a huge mental effort to overcome their second close defeat in the series if they are hoping to win the remaining two games and with it the series as well.
However, they will have to wait a while to be the No. 1 after they missed out on a splendid chance in Mohali. And, if they lose this series and still go on to be No. 1 later because of the number of ODIs they are playing, they will know that they don't quite deserve to be there because they lost to the team that mattered.
It is with this in view that India need to approach the next two matches. That a depleted Australian team is giving them such a hard time reflects not only on the standard of the domestic structures in the two countries but also on the policies of the two countries.
If one takes a look at the replacements that have come in for those regular Australian players, one will notice that all those who have flown in at short notice are players who have been playing domestic cricket for a few years and have got the national call-up after that. They, therefore, have played more than a few tough games and so are better prepared to take that next step to the international level. Here, one is not talking about the quality of cricket because that is debatable.
Like the Indians, the Australian Test and international players also hardly get to play in the domestic circuit because of the busy international schedule, so it's not as if the quality is top class. It is the competitive element that is fiercer and that prepares the Australians to cope with tough situations better than most others in the world.
Australia, like India plays in the ICC under-19 World Cup but how many of its U-19 players get called up to play for the country based on their junior performances? They have to go through the grind of first-class cricket and perform at that level before they get a whiff of the Australian cap. Mike Hussey had to score and score for years before he got a chance to play in the national team. He brings all that experience with him.
India, on the other hand, is generous while handing out its national caps and because of the obsession with youth those who haven’t had a full season of first-class cricket get the cap without actually earning it. By all means encourage the youth but only after he has delivered at the first-class level and not in some junior event.