Australia's top five mauled Indian bowling to every nook and corner of the ground as they hammered a humongous total of 389 runs following Steven Smith's century. Virat Kohli and KL Rahul fought valiantly for India in the chase but it was too little and too late as Australia sealed the ODI series.
India's toothless Powerplay trail
What's common between India's last four ODIs apart from the defeats? Their powerless powerplay performances and inability to make early inroads. 51/0, 65/0, 52/0, 54/0, this is how opponents have fared against India in the last four games in the first 10 overs of the game. Today again, India conceded 59 runs and didn't possess the potential to pick a wicket in the first 10 overs giving too much width and lacking plans to counter Australia's attacking intent. In fact, India's powerplay woes have stretched for far too long as in the last 14 games, they have struck only five times.
Quite naturally, the powerplay sets the tone of the game and this is where India have been lacking with Jasprit Bumrah and Shami failing to strike early. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been missed greatly as he could make the new ball talk but his frequent injuries have made him unavailable more often than not. India's poor start also renders their spinners ineffective as there is no pressure on batsmen at all, and it's a whole lot of difference bowling with a side 50-2 and 60-0 as the batters can take the attack to the spin bowlers. India will need to find a solution for their toothless Powerplay displays soon otherwise the batsmen need to be ready to chase more than 300, at times even 340-plus totals.
Steven Smith's Sunday special in Sydney
Steve Smith, you beauty. Well, that's not generally what you associate with the Aussie Test batting god but in the second ODI against India, it was a sheer delight to see Smith use his delicate touch, wrists and hand-eye coordination to everyone's exuberance. The 40th over by Bumrah symbolized the genius. So, on the very first ball, Bumrah balls a slower delivery and Smith, who had declared to have 'found his hands' uses his delicate touch to time the ball on the up and place the ball past the backward point to beat the sweeper.
Bumrah bounces back with two fast deliveries that are dots but then Smith puts his supple wrists to work as he glances the ball past short fine dragging from outside off to awe one and all. Smith makes the world's leading white-ball bowler dance to his tunes sans an iota of risk. The very next over, he beautifully lofts Chahal with a shot as straight as an arrow to smash the sightscreen hard. Smith's rise in ODIs can be attributed to him batting in top-order since 2014 as his average rose from 20.73 to 50.57 from being underutilized in the middle-order. The hallmark of his twin 62-ball centuries this series has been how attacking he has been - be it running between the wickets - or going for fours and sixes and is answering his critics who thought he was an inferior white-ball player.
Mayank Agarwal fails to capitalize chances
It took long for Mayank Agarwal to break into the Indian national side, but he kept piling up runs to break every possible door of selection and made his debut in India's historic Test series win Down Under in 2018/2019 with a bang. From there on, he has made a name for himself in Tests but despite being a natural white-ball player, he has failed to put his A-game forward in the limited number of ODIs he has played so far. This series was billed as his elusive chance to establish himself as a back-up opener in the side but he has failed to live up to the billing.
Just like the first ODI, Agarwal again failed to translate a glorious start into a big score. There were some exquisite cover drives but he threw away his start and got out on 28 after making 22 last game. Even in the New Zealand ODIs, earlier, this year, he had made scores of 32, 3 and 1 respectively failing to leave a good impression. Dhawan will be well over 37 by the time 2023 World Cup approaches while Rohit is also not getting any younger and with his fitness and injury concerns on the rise, it was a golden opportunity for Mayank to make most of his IPL form and a flat Sydney pitch with a platform to shine in pressure situations. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Shubman Gill strolls down to the middle with Shikhar Dhawan to open in the third ODI.