Chandigarh:Two down in the seven-match series, India will need to show drastic improvement in their batting against in-form Australia in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) in Chandigarh on Monday.
It will take some really good cricket, especially sensible batting, for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team to challenge Ricky Ponting's squad at the Sector 16 Stadium, where international cricket returns after a 14-year hiatus.
Both batting and bowling have been India's problems in the first three ODIs, though the first game was abandoned because of rain after the Australians had posted a 300-plus total.
In the next two matches too the Australian batting juggernaut continued to roll as it put up totals in the region of 300 that India simply failed to challenge.
Meanwhile, opening batsman Gautam Gambhir was rushed to a MRI centre in Chandigarh on Sunday after he sustained a groin injury during practice a day before the fourth ODI.
Team mate Robin Uthappa confirmed that Gambhir was injured during the nets.
"He sustained a groin injury after he slipped while facing a Sreesanth delivery. He has gone for an MRI test," Uthappa said.
The final medical report on Gambhir is expected to be available only later on Sunday evening. Former captain Sourav Ganguly, who missed the last two matches due to a hamstring injury, is likely to replace him for Monday's clash.
In that event, Ganguly will open the innings with Sachin Tendulkar.
Only Yuvraj Singh, who will be playing in front of his home crowd in the day game here, has looked in good nick as he stroked his way to his eighth ODI century in Hyderabad Friday.
The problem for India is the lack of big partnerships, though some batsmen have played little cameos. If India want to win, the openers will have to provide a sound start and three or four batsmen will have to make substantial contributions.
It is time for the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to bring their experience to the fore and help the team tackle the strong Australian bowling.
The 'big three' will especially have to keep one end going and guide those batting with them to build partnerships, so crucial to making big totals.
The Indian bowling has also been largely ineffective, looking sharp only in patches. Although the initial breakthroughs came, the bowlers failed to build on the good work as the innings progressed in all three matches, allowing the Australians to dominate.
Maybe, the Indians have yet to get over their last month's Twenty20 World Championships triumph.
The slam-bang Twenty20 cricket may have also affected their batting style a bit as the shortest version of the game needs constant big-hitting, paying little heed to the technique.
The Indians will, therefore, have to tighten up their overall game, including the fielding. They cannot afford to give away runs and drop catches if they want to make an impact against the four-time World Cup winners.
To remain in the hunt, India have to win Monday's match. If they lose, they will be left with no option but to win all three remaining matches to level the series. And no cricket team can guarantee that.
The Australians, on the other hand, have done little wrong in the three matches so far. Their large margin of victories is evidence enough of their superiority.