Fields fail fast bowlers
While Aaron Finch and David Warner had runs and game time coming into the game in Bengaluru, India's opening bowlers didn't, and it showed as Australia raced to 63 for 0 in ten overs. Since there was little movement in the air and off the pitch, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami tried to maintain a tight line. Whenever you adopt that line, you set a 5-4 off-side field with a fielder placed at short midwicket. But India chose to have a 6-3 off-side field most of the time. Bowling plans not backed with the right field are unlikely to succeed. India also didn't bowl an over of spin in the first ten overs.
Since the series was decided, India chose to try out some bench players for the fourth game. It makes sense to rest players who are consistent and have played throughout. While Chahal has played regularly since the ODI series against Sri Lanka, it was Kuldeep who was rested. Yes Kuldeep has played more first-class cricket in the past 12 months (refer chart), but he hardly featured in Sri Lanka and with no Test cricket till late November, he didn't need a break because of the workload. But the team went back to its original choice of spinners before Axar had got injured.
What's working for Kedar Jadhav?
Jadhav's unique action gives him one advantage over the other more orthodox spinners. He goes extremely round-arm at the point of release, which in turn lowers the trajectory significantly. Since modern batsmen have the ability to hit a six to a full ball even without stepping out, spinners are forced to bowl a lot shorter. Then, with the normal high-arm actions, the short ball of a spinner sits up to get hit - but in Jadhav's case, the ball doesn't bounce as much. It's almost impossible to get underneath Jadhav's short ball. On harder, bouncier pitches, he might find it difficult to be as effective but on slow Indian pitches, it works.
Spinners lines in focus
With batsmen getting more adventurous and powerful, spinners have had to find subtle variations. Since pitching the ball fuller is becoming difficult, the spinners have started playing with the lines quite smartly. For Finch, the Indian spinners kept following his legs and for Warner, they bowled it wide very often. Flight, drift and spin might have become a thing of the past but this subtle change in lines is a delight to watch. One fairly successful way of keeping the batsman quiet is to avoid bowling in the line of the bat's downswing. By bowling outside leg stump or wide outside off, you force the batsmen to work with about 70% of his optimum power.
The ball took a lot of beating in the first 30 overs as it travelled far and wide. India should be credited for the way they still managed to look after one side of the ball, which assisted both Shami and Umesh in making the ball reverse-swing at the tail end of the Australian innings. On flat pitches, it's critical for the bowlers to have something to protect themselves - it could be conventional swing with the new ball or reverse-swing with the old ball.
Whenever you're chasing a score as big as 335, it's imperative to start strongly and both Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma continued from where they'd left in Indore. After the third ODI, Rohit had spoken about their plan to move around in the crease to disrupt the rhythm of Australia quicks, for, in the first two games, both Cummins and Coulter-Nile bowled fuller and reaped rewards. The wounds the Indian openers inflicted in Indore were still sore in Bengaluru. The pair hit plenty of boundaries in the first ten overs but there was only one off the full ball off the front foot. The Australian bowlers didn't bowl the lengths that worked for them in the first two ODIs.
Kohli's dab issues
Twice in four games, Virat Kohli has been outfoxed while trying to run it down to the third-man region. While it's a safe shot to rotate strike, it's laden with risk if you pick the ball that's too full and too close. Since it's a shot played with the angled bat, the control over the shot is never as much as you would like. For some reason, Kohli played that shot a little more often today than he generally does in the early part of his innings, and it did him in.
Pandey, the finisher?
This series has been offering a glimpse of the future for India. Manish Pandey auditioned for the No. 4 position in Sri Lanka but after the twin failures in Chennai and Kolkata, he has been given a completely different role. He has dropped a couple of spots to No. 6. Interestingly, that's pushing Dhoni to No. 7. Till a few months ago, Dhoni's role was to steady ship at four or five but since the beginning of the Sri Lanka series, his role seems to have changed radically. It is too early to tell if this just a short-term move to groom the rest or a long-term strategy, but it is one to watch.