(from left) Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, and Irfan Pathan: India's past stars who might return some of India's lost glory © Getty Images
(from left) Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, and Irfan Pathan: India’s past stars who might return some of India’s lost glory © Getty Images

India pulled off a stunning defeat against Australia in the fourth ODI at Canberra, losing 9 wickets for 46 runs to go from 277 for 1 to being bowled out for 323. Shikhar Dhawan (126 off 113), Virat Kohli (106 off 92), and Rohit Sharma (41 off 25) set India up for what ought to have been a memorable victory, only for the middle- and lower-orders to combust in the most ridiculous manner imaginable. India needed 72 runs at less than a run a ball when Dhawan was dismissed. A couple of overs later MS Dhoni and Kohli were dismissed, but even then India needed a manageable 71 runs from 65 balls with 6 wickets remaining. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra

Ajinkya Rahane’s hand was quite badly injured. He needed stitches, and understandably would not have been able to bat with his usual fluency. Gurkeerat Singh and Rishi Dhawan were each playing their second ODIs. Ravindra Jadeja was making a comeback to the ODI side. None of this was an excuse good enough for what happened. Full Cricket Blog: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra

Given that Rahane was injured, Gurkeerat and Jadeja were promoted up the order. Gurkeerat has made a name for himself with the India A. He has enjoyed a productive Ranji Trophy season. He is in the team as an all-rounder, but predominantly for his batting prowess. He hit Nathan Lyon down the ground for a fine boundary to get going. At that stage, all he needed to do was churn over the strike and take the match to the next over. The required run rate was far from out of reach. Instead, he decided to slog. The resultant top edge found its way to the fielder at square-leg. READ: India’s spectacular capitulation awards Australia 25-run win in 4th ODI at Canberra

Rahane is India’s crisis man. He has shown his class repeatedly in Test cricket. He is in good form, having scored a couple of half-centuries in the last two ODIs. But he had stitches in his hand, and found it tough to grip the bat. He does not deserve too harsh a judgement, but he should have known better than to attempt a glide to third man with a slip present. READ: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra: One umpire walks off, the other wears a helmet!

Rishi does not have the confidence of his captain. Dhoni had hinted at an earlier press conference that he does not consider Rishi as a batsman of note. This was the perfect opportunity for Rishi to prove him wrong. Much like Gurkeerat, he too hit one down the ground for four and holed out immediately after. To his credit, he bowled 9 fairly economical overs but never looked like he would take a wicket. READ: Virat Kohli smashes 84-ball century during India vs Australia 4th ODI at Canberra; becomes fastest and youngest to 25 ODI tons

Only Jadeja batted sensibly, but even he was guilty of not farming strike when the obviously inept Umesh Yadav tried slogging at 11 balls and missing 8 of them. In the end there was far too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

As for the bowling, Ravichandran Ashwin’s absence continues to boggle the mind. India’s best bowler had a couple of off games at the two grounds that were always going to offer the least spin. One feels that had he played at MCG India may well have been alive in the series coming into the fourth ODI. He may even have made a difference — with either bat or ball — in this match at Canberra, but that is mere conjunction.

Barinder Sran took 3 wickets on debut at Perth, bowled well without reward at Brisbane, and had an off day at Melbourne. He was dropped in favour of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has long since lost his ability to take wickets. He conceded 69 in 8 overs without taking a wicket in the fourth ODI.

India’s current line-up does not look like it will win a lot of games, either home or away. The obvious over-reliance on the top four batsmen and the utter lack of wicket-taking ability from the bowlers paints a sorry picture. The way India capitulated only adds to the feeling that India have a lot of shuffling around to do before they can be called a world-beating side.

India continue to search for a big-hitter who can come in at Nos 6 or 7 and turn the game around in a few overs. Gurkeerat or Rishi are certainly not going to do that consistently. Manish Pandey, who was in the squad for precisely that reason, had to be kept out because of India’s lack of bowling firepower.

Suresh Raina can kill two birds with one stone; he is more than capable of playing those big hits and can also bowl a few quiet overs. Another obvious option is Yuvraj Singh, who has played that role with aplomb for years. A third choice can be Irfan Pathan, who is more of a bowler than a batsman but is still capable of playing some huge hits. He is also adept at playing a long innings, as he has proven more than once in the past. In an ideal world two of the aforementioned players should feature in India’s line-up. With someone like Raina or Yuvraj batting in the top 6 and Irfan, Jadeja, and Ashwin to follow, India will have more than enough batting depth to set or chase down huge scores.

One thing is for sure; Gurkeerat and Rishi are rarely going to win games for India by themselves with either bat or ball unless they improve significantly in temperament. They may be giants in domestic cricket, but it is time to go back to the past in order for India’s future to be secure.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)