Even as India take heart from their spirited performance in Vadodara, they would know that but for some lackadaisical efforts on the field they could well have won the game. The fielding was way below international standards, and in a tight game, that will invariably be the difference between winning a match or losing it.
India have never been a great fielding side though they have had some superb fielders in every team. Fielding is not a priority for the coaches and that means that players think of it as a tiresome chore than a joy to do. That is the reason why most Indian fielders are seen picking the ball up with the wrong balance and the throwing is hardly ever accurate, leave alone being powerful enough to run a batsman out from the boundary.
The rough outfields that junior cricket is played on in most big cities also stops the players from diving or sliding because of the fear of skinning the elbows and knees. There is also the worry that the ball might bounce and smash into the face.
A huge six can seldom match the thrill that spectators get from a brilliant piece of fielding or the sight of the stumps sent flying by a quick bowler.
The positives that India will take are the manner in which Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar took the attack to the Australians and almost got them home. They never gave up and played some terrific shots to give India more than a glimmer of hope.
Harbhajan has shown remarkable determination to get better as a batsman and it is paying rich dividends. What he needs to understand is that even top quality batsmen find it hard to connect with the reverse sweep and since he is not yet a top batsman, it is a shot that he should avoid.