With the loss at Melbourne, India have now lost yet another bilateral series under MS Dhoni's captaincy. © Getty Images.
With the loss at Melbourne, India have now lost yet another bilateral series under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. © Getty Images.

India went into the third ODI against Australia at Melbourne knowing they had little or no scope for error with the series on line. This was their last chance of making a comeback into the series and to live another day for a shot at the silver-ware. They made two populist changes and drafted in fresh faces Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan for the game. They were asked to bat first on yet another flat deck and posted near-300 with Virat Kohli’s brilliant ton. In short, they did almost everything they could to find their first win on the tour and salvage their pride, but yet again the same script unfolded as they not only lost the match, but also the series. Chinmay Jawalekar looks at the possible reasons behind India’s third successive loss Down Under. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia 2015-16, 3rd ODI at MCG.

1.  Selection errors: The first and the foremost reason behind India’s loss was the poor team selection. Knowing this was a must-win game, India should not have gone in with two newcomers. Both Gurkeerat and Rishi had their nerves all over the place throughout the match. They did not make any significant contribution to the team’s cause, as they got their turn to bat only with a couple of overs remaining. Though they bowled a quota of 10 overs between them, neither of them posed any threat to the Australian batting and looked far from threatening. With neither of them playing a vital role in any of the department, it would have been better to have the more experienced duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the side. Had India still lost the match, the youngsters could have been tried in the dead-rubbers. BLOG: India vs Australia 2015-16, 3rd ODI at MCG.

2.  Poor bowling: Indian bowling was poor to say the least, and there are no two ways about it. Experienced players like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, who were expected to lead the attack from the front, kept on bowling at least one boundary-ball per over. Even Barinder Sran, who went for around eight runs per over, had an off day today. This made life easy for the Australian batsmen as even as they had to face three-four good deliveries an over, they had easy scoring balls coming their way very often. Barring Ravindra Jadeja, who finally showed up today, nobody else looked threatening enough to pick wickets. But Jadeja too could not win it single-handedly and clearly lacked support from the other ends. Also Read: India’s pace-bowling inconsistencies, as underlined in India vs Australia 2015-16 series, cause for great alarm.

3.  Poor fielding: If poor bowling cost India the match, their pathetic fielding also let them down. Australian opener Aaron Finch was given a reprieve early on by Gurkeerat. Luckily, Finch did not add a single run to his score and departed in the next over. But this was not the story of this match only, as in the last game too Ishant had dropped a sitter. Skipper MS Dhoni accepted in the post-match press conference that his fielders gave away at least 15 extra runs, which was a major concern. This combination of poor bowling and fielding eventually cost India the game. Also Read — Virat Kohli: A role model for upcoming cricketers around the world.

4.  Shikhar Dhawan’s scratchy fifty: Shikhar Dhawan, who has been struggling of late, finally went past fifty today. But his knock of 68 consumed 91 important deliveries upfront, which hurt India’s chances of putting-up a 300-plus score on the board. Worse, he got out after all the hard-word and just when he was set. It was fine had he changed gears from there and ended on at least a run-a-ball knock. But he got out when his side needed him the most. Shikhar Dhawan’s selfish innings proved to be a stumbling block in India’s way of going to a huge total and thus is one of the reasons for their loss.

5.  Dhoni’s leadership: Dhoni has been under fire for quite some time now. Be it his losses against the lowly Bangladesh, the mighty South Africans and now the world champs Australia or his bizarre choices with the team selection or his waning abilities with the bat or Kohli’s rise as India’s Test captain; there is little that has gone his way. Though he tried desperately with his 9-ball 23, a lightning-fast stumping and a clever run-out, he could not avert the series loss. Dhoni did not look half as clever as he used to be on the field and gave an impression that he had run out of ideas. There were no smart bowling changes or any tactical field placements that could turn the course of the game. Though it may not be fair to blame him for the loss, as a captain is only as good as his team, his inability to come-up with alternative plans when his strategies were not working on the field, was definitely one of the reasons for India’s loss.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)