As Australia neared their record run chase of mammoth 359, Indians’ body language betrayed helplessness. Sitters were dropped, and stumpings missed in one of their most lackadaisical performances on field in recent times. Captain Virat Kohli rued the missed chances and admitted the hosts paid the price for being sloppy on field.
India, who had led the series 2-1 ahead of the fourth ODI here, were let down by their fielding in crucial stages of the thrilling contest. With dew doing all kinds of tricks, India, watched by a packed stadium, felt the heat. The errors came from them in the anchor leg of chase and turned things decisively in favour of Australia, who reached home with 13 balls to spare!
Indian fielders fluffed as many as five chances in the last 11 overs which included centurian Peter Handscomb being spared a stumping by Rishabh Pant, who had a terrible time behind the wickets. At that stage, Australia needed 111 off 68 balls.
Ashton Turner, who blew India away with smoking 43-ball 84 n.o., too was given a life when on 41. Pant muffed up this too, at a stage when Australia needed 72 off 42. Worst, in the 47th over, with 14 needed off 15, Dhawan dropped an easy catch off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to reprieve Turner at mid-off and was seen wiping off his hands. Turner later acknowledged being “fortunate” to be dropped on way to his match-winning knock.
Kohli admitted dew was a factor but was candid in stating the team squandered chances.
“The wicket remained good throughout, we’ve fallen the wrong side of the dew in two games, but that’s not an excuse. Five chances in the last few overs a hard pill to swallow. Ashton played a hell of a knock, Handscomb played a brilliant innings, Khawaja held the innings together,” Kohli said.
“Stumping chances were crucial, we were sloppy in the field and should’ve grabbed our chances. The opportunities slipped away and so was the game.
“It’s going to be a cracker, we’ve to be at our best, we’ve had two eye-openers against this Australian side. This is definitely going to hurt, going to hurt the right way.”
Former cricketer Mohammad Kaif, known for his stellar fielding, aptly summed up Sunday’s contest. “One of India’s most listless display (sic) with the ball and in the field in recent times. Dropping absolute sitters. Also, in times like these, India realise the value of Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the wickets. Taking nothing away from the brilliance of Turner though,” he wrote on his twitter handle.
The fifth and final ODI, now a decider, will be on Wednesday at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi. India know they will have to plug in these holes if they wish to finish the series on a high.