Steven Smith, the Australia captain, believes players on this tour are likely to face competition from those playing the domestic one-day tournament back home. This is in sharp contrast to his views ahead of the second ODI in Kolkata, where he said the current squad represented the country's best one-day talent.
Having lost the series 4-1 and serious defects emerging, Smith is looking towards the JLT one-day cup for new talent. Although it is an old hand, Shaun Marsh who has scored a century and a fifty in his two innings so far and is currently leading the run-charts.
"Some guys are back playing the domestic one-day domestic competition at the moment and yeah, there're some guys there that can put some pressure on the guys that are here," he said after the seven-wicket defeat in Nagpur. "Obviously the results haven't been good enough and we want our guys to perform consistently. We will have a good look at the one day competition back home and hopefully a few guys can jump out of the pack and score big runs and bowl really well as well."
Having won the toss on a re-laid surface, Australia were 100 for 1 in the 20th over. But with the field spreading and the spinners coming on, India were able to regain control. Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadhav got through 30 overs for 134 runs, taking four wickets. Smith said his team had discussed a plan for the middle overs, one that revolved around hitting gaps and taking singles. But to do so at the VCA stadium, they had to think on their feet a bit.
"We had a chat after our second game about the spinners, particularly hitting the ball down the ground and things like that and hitting the men in the deep and I thought we did that for a couple of games," he said. "But today, I thought Virat [Kohli] set some good fields and stopped us from hitting and I don't think we adapted well enough. Today was probably a day to use softer hands and played a bit squarer and hit the balls into the gaps instead of hitting down the ground."
The old grouse of set batsmen not going on to make big scores made a comeback. "The top four need to stand up and really take control," Smith said. "We did it in a couple of games, or last game in Bangalore in particular, but we're not doing it consistently enough to go hard in the back end of the game and getting the partnerships in the middle."
Only Australia had the comfort of both their openers following a century with a fifty this series. Aaron Finch (250) and David Warner (245) feature in the top three run-getters across the five matches but the middle order offered very little support. The only player below No. 3 to make a fifty was Marcus Stoinis, whereas India had Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav shoring up their middle order in tough situations.
"We're just not taking our words out in the middle and doing it with action, unfortunately," Smith said when asked about the issues with his team's batting. "We have glimpses of it, we play well in periods and then we get ourselves in trouble, probably from poor decision making under pressure, that's probably what you've got to put it down to most of all. it's something we need to improve on because it's not good enough."
On his own performance -142 runs at 28.62 - Smith said: "To be honest, I wasn't feeling great at the start of the series, I wasn't holding the bat the way I liked to and I was having a few issues there that I was working on. But I think I've slowly found a nice tempo which I'm after. I would have loved to score a lot more runs.
"I've got myself in on a few occasions and not gone on to get the big runs that I previously have been. From that aspect, as the leader of the team, it's been disappointing. But I guess sometimes that's cricket. You have those periods where you're not playing or getting the scores you really like. Something hopefully I can turn it around and hopefully contribute in the T20s."