On Friday, India experienced Australian fireworks as the Aussie batsmen, especially Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell, recorded a total of 374 runs in 50 overs in the first ODI at SCG.
Australia defeated India by 66 runs as the visitors could not chase the huge total, which was also the highest that Aussies have put up against India.
Cricketer turned commentator Gautam Gambhir believes that the lack of a sixth bowling and fast-bowling all-round options are the cause of current problems in the Virat Kohli-led side.
In the match, Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini conceded more than 80 runs in their quota of ten overs, and not having a sixth bowling option hurt India as Virat Kohli had to return to his main five-bowlers even when they were leaking runs.
"It has been happening since the last World Cup, if Hardik Pandya is not fit to bowl, then where is your sixth bowling option? Even if Rohit Sharma comes back into the lineup, the problem you are facing now, you will face the same going ahead. There is no one in top six who can give you a couple of overs," Gambhir told ESPNCricinfo.
"If you see the Australian side, they have got Moises Henriques who can give you a couple of overs, they have Sean Abbott who is a bowling all-rounder. If you talk about India, if Hardik Pandya is unfit then where is your sixth bowling option? I can only think of Vijay Shankar as the other all-rounder, does he have the same impact batting at number five-six, and can he give you eight-nine overs? I have my doubts," he added.
All-rounder Pandya scored 90 runs in the first ODI and after the conclusion of the match, he admitted that he will only bowl once he returns to full fitness. India had tried Vijay Shankar as an option in the 2019 World Cup, and after that, the side has been reluctant to try him out consistently in white-ball format.
"It is a process. I am looking at a long-term goal where I want to be 100 per cent of my bowling capacity for the most important games. The World Cups are coming. More crucial series are coming. Whenever it is required," Pandya had said in a virtual press-conference after the match.
"I am thinking like a long-term plan, not short term where I exhaust myself and maybe have something else [injury] which is not there. So it is going to be a process, which I am following. I can't tell you exactly when I am going to bowl but the process is on. In the nets, I am bowling. It is just that I am not game-ready but I am bowling. It is all about confidence and the skill has to be at an international level," he added.
India and Australia will now lock horns in the second ODI on Sunday.
(with ANI inputs)