Inconsistency is India’s bane
Inconsistency has been the bane of Indian cricket and it continues to be so. It was a good, hard-fought match no doubt and full credit has to be given to the Australians for the manner in which they kept at it but they would be the first to admit that it was the Indians' old habit of losing wickets in a heap that made it easier for them to run away with the match and the series. Typical of the Australians, when an inch was given with the bat or ball, they went the whole mile.
The importance of a good start has been stressed upon and on Sunday, Sachin and Sourav provided the perfect platform. I fail to understand why Irfan Pathan was promoted when there was someone like Yuvraj waiting to press on from that situation. Irfan may have had some success in his earlier stints at number three when he was a regular in the playing eleven but he's basically capable of a 20 or 30 and not one who can be expected to score big. The Indians needed someone who could settle in and carry on, like Symonds did so wonderfully for Australia, and Yuvraj would have been the ideal batsman.
However, we didn't lose out only because of our batting. Our fielding first and running between the wickets later, was miserable and there can be no excuses for such a show. A captain has to work with various situations in mind and take decisions as he thinks best but when you had someone bowling as well as Kartik was, there is nothing to be debated upon. The left-arm spinner should have continued from one end even as Harbhajan was perhaps kept back for later overs. The ball change after 34 overs would have worked on Dhoni's mind but with the pitch affording so much spin, slow bowlers were always going to be the better option.
That the Australian spinners, Hogg and Symonds did such a good job, only makes Dhoni's decision stranger but these are things a young captain should and will learn in time. Meanwhile, his predecessor's bad run with the bat continues. No doubt Rahul is short of runs but ups and downs are part of such long and illustrious careers and he is only one big knock away from getting back into the thick of things.
The series loss must not take away the team's focus on the final ODI in Mumbai. They must remember that they will be touring Australia shortly and so from a psychological point of view, the Indians must still try and upset the visitors. It is not the time to experiment either and we must field our full-strength side.
(Chivach Sports/ Hawkeye Communications)