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What cost India dear in Australia

Image Credit: AFP.

Image Credit: AFP.

Despite scoring healthy totals - 309 for 3 at Perth, 308 for 8 in Brisbane and 295 for 6 in Melbourne - in all the three ODIs, the visitors ended up on the losing side.

Three matches, three centuries, and three losses - only this time the unlucky man was Virat Kohli and not Rohit Sharma. But, it doesn't matter. India were still powerless to win their first match of the limited-overs series in Australia.

Despite scoring healthy totals - 309 for 3 at Perth, 308 for 8 in Brisbane and 295 for 6 in Melbourne - in all the three ODIs, the visitors ended up on the losing side. For the first time in 26 years India have lost a 5-match series in the first three completed games.

However, unlike the first two matches, the Indians were well in contention for victory on Sunday but couldn't guide themselves home. They were once again undone by some mediocre performances in more than one department of the game.

Here are the five reasons that scripted India's ODI series loss - third in a row, after Bangladesh and South Africa.

Ordinary Bowling

If there was anything that hogged the limelight after every match, it was India's poor bowling. Barring Barinder Sran on debut and Ravindra Jadeja in the third ODI, none of the Indian bowlers have anything to cheer for as they proved too easy to handle for the Australian batsmen. In the first ODI, it was Steven Smith and Gerge Bailey who decimated the Indian bowling with a 242-run partnership for the third wicket and chased down the target with 4 balls remaining. In the second match, it was again a combined performance by Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Bailey and Smith that guided Australia home with an over to spare.

In the third ODI, where Indians looked set for registering their first win, it was Glenn Maxwell who came up with a stupendous performance to take the game away from the visitors.

Connecting the dots, the losses highlight the miserable state of Indian bowling. In the first match, the Indians gave away 12 wides, in the second, there were 11 wides while in the third match, they bowled 5 wides.

It doesn’t speak highly of the Indian bowling that has been milked and slaughtered by the Aussie batsmen in the series.

Even after two defeats, Indian pacers were unable to learn and find the consistency needed while bowling on Australian tracks. The manner in which the Australians have toyed with the Indian bowling attack, it leaves them with nothing but an 'average' tag.

Sloppy Fielding

Gone are the days when fielding was not considered as the primary aspect. In today's international cricket, fielding can be the difference between winning or losing. No matter what, a team cannot afford to give away easy runs. India, of late, have displayed top class fielding both home and away. But it has not been the case in Australia. Besides gifting runs by way of misfielding, the Indian team has been guilty of dropping easy catches and they also failed to save runs inside the circle. In the last match, Gurkeerat Singh Mann put down opener Aaron Finch early, Ishant Sharma too dropped a sitter in the 2nd ODI. Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant were all guilty of misfields at one point or another.

This, combined with indisciplined bowling, helped Australia’s batsmen get away .

Lack of a genuine allrounder

India lack genuine allrounders and are too dependent on their top four batsmen that has posed a real problem for the team in limited-overs cricket. India don't have a seaming allrounder, which has hampered the team overseas. With Irfan Pathan not in the scheme of things due to injuries, the Indian team has long suffered due to the lack of seam-bowling allrounders, and players like Stuart Binny are more of a desperate selection due to lack of options.

After the defeat at the MCG, Dhoni too stated that the Indian team lack a seaming allrounder and it was pointless to even talk about it.

“What is more important is to see the areas we are lacking in. I feel it’s the bowling department and we have kept asking the same question whenever we have come outside. We don’t have a seaming allrounder, so let’s not even go to that topic," he said.

This shows how handicapped a team can be if there are no quality allrounders around.

Spinners' overseas misery

The Indian team was on top after defeating South Africa at home in the recently-concluded Test series but spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were again facing questions about their effectiveness outside the sub-continent in unfavourable conditions.

The manner in which Smith and Bailey played against the duo in the first ODI, scoring 139 runs off the duo in 18 overs, it is obvious that the questions will be raised.

Ashwin grabbed two wickets in two ODIs before getting dropped on Melbourne, while Jadeja got three in three matches. It was a moment of truth for Dhoni, who places a lot of faith in his spinners. Both Ashwin and Jadeja tried to contain the run flow but didn't make efforts to take the wickets, except In the third ODI where Jadeja was pick of the bowlers.

Slog-over low

The Indian batting, which got off to a flier in the first 30 overs on all three ODIs, ran out of steam in the death overs on each occasion. The run-rate went considerably low in the last 10-15 overs with the Indian batsmen not being able to hit big consistently when it mattered. It has been a problem with India of late with majority of the batsmen managing only a run-a-ball innings, India have not been able to speed up the scoring and cash in on the last few overs and have instead lost wickets allowing the opposition to come back into the game.

With two ODIs left before the T20I series begins, India are now left with many questions to answer.