The lack of character from this Indian team was shocking. There was no fight, and little hunger. And let's not even talk about pride.
Pursuing 253 for a win — gettable even if the surface was offering some carry and movement — India was shot out for 165 in the 40th over. This was meek surrender.
The message that came out loud was — despite spending months down under the Indians are still struggling to cope with conditions. There can be no excuses.
Outplaying India by 87 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground here on Sunday, Australia (19 points from seven matches) is through to the finals of the Commonwealth Bank ODI Triangular series.
Mountain to climb
India, 10 from seven, now has a mountain to climb. To qualify for the finals, it needs to defeat Sri Lanka with a bonus point at Hobart on February 28 and then hope that Australia beats Mahela Jayawardene's team in the final league game in Melbourne.
Given the team's current form — the side conceded a bonus point to Australia here — this will be a tall order. The Sri Lankans are playing with verve and the Indians appear to have lost it mentally.
Unable to cope with stressful situations, India succumbed to the pressures of a moderate chase. Gradually, the Indian supporters in the crowd melted away.
Virender Sehwag, pushing a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery straight, saw the bowler pluck a brilliant catch inches from the ground. Hilfenhaus is not only crafty, but alert.
Sachin Tendulkar's woeful series continued when David Warner's under-arm throw from point was on target at the striker's end. Tendulkar indicated that he had been obstructed by bowler Brett Lee running across the pitch as soon as Gautam Gambhir played the stroke.
Virat Kohli fell to a set-up, when Shane Watson, with a mid-wicket in place, sent down an off-cutter on middle-and leg. The batsman's uppish flick was pouched with glee.
Gambhir, like Kohli, could not consolidate on a start. He tried to drive seamer Clint McKay with limited feet movement and played on. And Suresh Raina's attempted away-from-his-body glide off Watson ended in 'keeper Matthew Wade's hands.
Ravindra Jadeja hardly inspired confidence before being snared by Daniel Christian on the steer. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was neither able to find the gaps nor collect singles.
Watson's strong infield and sharp fielding choked the Indian captain. Dhoni made 14 off 49 balls before the skilful Hilfenhaus trapped him in front with a pacey off-cutter.
There were a few meaty blows from Irfan Pathan and R. Ashwin towards the end but it was only a matter of time before the innings folded up.
Clarke misses match
Michael Clarke missed the match with a back strain and all-rounder Watson, returning to the side after recovering from a calf injury, stepped in as captain. He won the toss and India, for the seventh time in this series, was chasing under the lights.
Ironically, the Indian start in the afternoon was promising. The sky was overcast and Praveen Kumar made an impact with the new ball. Watson perished early when he attempted to pull a back-of-a-length delivery that was not quite short enough for the stroke.
Then the in-form Peter Forrest dragged a Praveen delivery that moved a shade away on to his stumps. There was further trouble for Australia when Michael Hussey was done in by a smart pick-up-and-throw by Pathan from deep cover to bowler Ashwin.
Meanwhile David Warner — adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his 68 — picked runs in his inimitable style. The southpaw muscled a few pulls — he punished Pathan and Umesh Yadav when they erred in length — and punched, flicked and drove with power. His dismissal made great spectacle for the crowd but Pathan was forced to leave the field in pain.
Warner top-edged a sweep off left-arm spinner Jadeja. Raina, running back from square-leg and Pathan, thundering in from fine-leg, had their eyes on the skier. Raina completed a fine catch but the two fielders collided and Pathan was struck on his chest. Pathan returned to the crease but did not bowl again.
David Hussey (54) and Wade (56) held the innings together with some smart percentage cricket. They ran hard to collect singles and twos but also caused some damage with the big blows.
When Ashwin, at best steady, pitched short, Wade pulled him for the maximum. This left-hander is an excellent player of the horizontal bat shots.
Severe with pulls
Hussey too was severe with his pulls — this indicated the Indians erred in length — and drove with poise.
Yadav, brought back by Dhoni, removed Wade when the southpaw nicked one while attempting a steer. Yadav sent back Hussey too when the batsman top-edged a pull.
There were wickets for Sehwag and Dhoni used his off-spin extensively — this also meant the two frontline spinners were unable to strike telling blows in the middle overs.
But then, some useful strokes from Christian and Xavier Doherty took Australia to a competitive total. Once again, the Indian bowling appeared inadequate at the death.
Australia: D. Warner c Raina b Jadeja 68 (66b, 7x4), S. Watson c Yadav b Praveen 1 (7b), P. Forrest b Praveen 7 (18b, 1x4), M. Hussey (run out) 10 (21b, 1x4), D. Hussey c Dhoni b Yadav 54 (64b, 2x4), M. Wade c Dhoni b Yadav 56 (66b, 2x4, 1x6), D. Christian c Jadeja b Sehwag 24 (32b, 2x4), C. McKay st. Dhoni b Sehwag 1 (2b), B. Lee c Kohli b Sehwag 4 (15b), X. Doherty (not out) 13 (9b, 1x6); Extras (lb-9, w-5): 14; Total (for nine wkts., in 50 overs): 252.
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Watson), 2-26 (Forrest), 3-57 (M. Hussey), 4-107 (Warner), 5-201 (Wade), 6-212 (D. Hussey), 7-217 (McKay), 8-232 (Lee), 9-252 (Christian).
India bowling: Praveen 10-1-37-2, Irfan 5-1-28-0, Ashwin 10-0-45-0, Yadav 6-0-39-2, Jadeja 10-0-51-1, Sehwag 9-0-43-3.
India: V. Sehwag c & b Hilfenhaus 5 (11b, 1x4), S. Tendulkar (run out) 14 (15b, 2x4), G. Gambhir b McKay 23b (48b, 3x4), V. Kohli c Christian b Watson 21 (27b, 2x4), S. Raina c Wade b Watson 8 (7b, 1x4), M.S. Dhoni lbw b Hilfenhaus 14 (49b), R. Jadeja c Watson b Christian 8 (17b, 1x4), R. Ashwin c Watson b Doherty 26 (37b, 2x4), Irfan c M. Hussey b Lee 22 (22b, 1x4, 2x6), Praveen b Doherty 1 (4b), U. Yadav (not out) 0 (3b); Extras (b-4, lb-8, w-8, nb-3): 23; Total (in 39.3 overs): 165.
Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Sehwag), 2-35 (Tendulkar), 3-79 (Kohli), 4-83 (Gambhir), 5-89 (Raina), 6-104 (Jadeja), 7-126 (Dhoni), 8-156 (Ashwin), 9-163 (Irfan).
Australia bowling: Lee 8-0-26-1, Hilfenhaus 8-1-50-2, McKay 6-0-27-1, D. Hussey 2-0-7-0, Christian 3-0-8-1, Watson 5-2-9-2, Doherty 7.3-0-26-2.
Man-of-the-Match: D. Warner.