When the South Africa bowlers put the brakes on MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli from overs 30-40, which led to the required run rate soaring, you knew India were in deep trouble, purely because the team do not have that power-hitter, capable of thumping sixes and fours at will.
[Get the full squads for the last two ODIs and first couple of Test matches HERE]
Ever since Yuvraj Singh's powers waned and Dhoni became the accumulator, rather than the "hits sixes at will" batsman (not that there is anything wrong with that, mind), India have not been able to find a suitable replacement(s).
Suresh Raina is capable of a big hit here and there, but nothing like the manner in which Yuvraj, who is fresh off a hundred in the Ranji Trophy, and Dhoni used to belt them with ridiculous regularity. Ravindra Jadeja has come and gone, Axar Patel is more a bowler now than a batsman and Stuart Binny just hasn't been able to cut it on the international circuit.
The selectors picked Gurkeerat Singh Mann for the first three matches of this ODI Freedom Series against South Africa, but Dhoni has not given the youngster an opportunity yet.
Gurkeerat might or might not be the solution, but what is clear as the light of day is that India need a power-hitter in the lower middle order, someone who can get those 10 runs an over at will, and put the bowlers back on the back foot. The selectors, who meet today to pick the team for the final two matches, will find it difficult to identify someone, because, unfortunately, there aren't too many out there.
However, something needs to change, because it was oh so predictable how the chase eventually went for India in that third ODI, the moment the run rate went well past eight.
Both Dhoni and Kohli put way too much pressure on themselves by allowing the South Africa bowlers to control the 30-40 overs phase. It was almost as if they were too scared to get out during that time, owing, perhaps, to the lack of faith in the lower order to see the team through.
So, there were absolutely no risks taken, no impetus was given to the innings, and dot ball after dot ball piled up, only increasing the pressure on two of India's best finishers of all-time.
However, with Kohli still not quite back to his best, and Dhoni unable to find his six-hitting groove, ten runs an over was always going to be an uphill task against this quality South Africa attack, and the moment Dhoni's wicket went, India crumbled, with Kohli also unable to take his team home.
The sad thing about the failed chase was that, everyone could see it from a mile away. When India are given the task of chasing at a brisk run rate, they struggle, because they just do not have those power hitters in the lineup anymore (heck, even someone like Yusuf Pathan would have been a good option to have in that 3rd ODI, lower down the order).
If Ajinkya Rahane does not open the innings – not bat at No.3, because Kohli should always bat at No.3 – he should not be in the ODI playing XI – it must be one of Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan. With Dhawan woefully out of form, it would have made a lot of sense for Dhoni to push Rahane to the top of the order, get one of Ambati Rayudu (another batsman yet to convince, but nevertheless a better option for the lower middle order) or Gurkeerat in and give India a better chance of hitting those big shots, if needed, towards the end.
If India continue to use the same blend of players in this series, or the matches thereafter, every time they need big runs towards the end, they will struggle, more often than not.
So, will the power-hitters in India please stand up?