It was back to square one for India after the third one-day international against South Africa in Rajkot, a match in which their batting flattered to deceive yet again. It is now onto the must-win (been there before, haven't we) 4th ODI in Chennai on Thursday, with MS Dhoni and co. hunting that perfect formula again.
South Africa have been the better team so far in this Freedom Series, without a shadow of a doubt. It is up to the India side to match up to the visitors, bat for bat and ball for ball, consistently.
Like MS Dhoni himself said, India just haven't been able to conjure up a complete performance in this Freedom Series -- if their batting has come to the party, the bowling has been a letdown, and if the bowlers have done their jobs perfectly, they haven't been backed up by the batsmen.
Five games into this tour – not counting the abandoned one in Kolkata – India are still struggling to find the right combination in their batting order, and that is just not good enough.
What is as clear as the light of the day is that Dhoni should play only one of Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan, because the former just cannot bat in the middle order, and Virat Kohli must always come in at No.3. With Dhawan failing to find the middle of his bat, it might be a good idea to rest the left-hander, push Rahane to the top of the order alongside Rohit and pack a bit more power in the middle.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann has been left to twiddle his fingers on the bench so far in this ODI series against South Africa, and surely, there can be no harm in giving the youngster a go in Chennai on Thursday.
India need a power-hitter in the lower middle order, and the only way to know if Gurkeerat is the answer is to give him a go. If it doesn't work out, it is not like it can be a lot worse than India's current batting scenario.
The bowling has been a lot better for India, but Dhoni will be worried about the impact of the legal problem that Amit Mishra finds himself in. if the leg-spinner is not in the right frame of mind, Dhoni will be better served keeping the player out of the playing XI.
South Africa, again, go into a match against India feeling good about themselves, after a superlative bowling performance. All four of their frontline bowlers have stepped up admirably in this series, and it is up to the India batsmen to put the pressure back on them.
Only Rohit has been able to do that consistently so far; so it is up to the rest to take up the mantle, or this Freedom Series will go South Africa's way in a hurry.
4th ODI schedule: India vs South Africa.
Date: Thursday, 22 October.
Time: 1.30 pm IST (10 am SAST, 9 am BST, 4 am ET).
Venue: MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk, Chennai.
TV listings: India: DD National, Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3. South Africa: SuperSport. UK: Sky Sports 2. USA: Willow TV. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Play.