Throughout this series, the Australians have consistently scored at around six runs an over, which on Indian pitches is only par for the course. We've had matches in the past, such as the last series against Pakistan, where scores tended to be higher. India's openers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, however, have been content in this series to score at four runs an over - 257 in 366 balls by Tendulkar, and 127 in 174 balls by Ganguly. What is worse is that the duo have also consumed most of the powerplay overs, with field restrictions, where the Aussies have scored at around 6.5 runs an over on average. It is this, more than any other reason, that has been responsible for India's drubbing in the series.
The effects of this were most apparent in the last game, where India had plenty of wickets in hand but didn't even come close. That's because it's almost impossible for a new batsman to cope with an asking rate of 7.5. If he takes a couple of overs to settle in, the asking rate at that late stage zooms very quickly to double figures. On the other hand, if he has a go immediately, he's likely to get out. The exception was in Chandigarh, where Dhoni and Uthappa, both new at the crease, managed to score an amazing 12 runs an over at the end to take India to a fighting total, which their bowlers managed to defend. Ganguly and Tendulkar were hailed for laying the platform for that victory, but I think India won in spite of them, not because of them.
Consider this - Australia has been losing early wickets in every game in the series, except the one-sided affair in Vadodara, and yet that has never deterred them from what has become the tried-and-tested approach to the one-day game: take advantage of the powerplay overs, play for singles and twos in the middle overs, and time the charge at the end according to the number of wickets in hand. A team would change that gameplan only if it is confronted with a very difficult wicket against the new ball, which is apparently not the case because India have won the toss and opted to bat first in all the matches except the first one. So this conservatism at the top can have no justification.
There are of course other reasons for India's abject state, like playing five specialist bowlers when the Australians use only four. This is another example of giving up a time-tested formula with no evidence to show that the new system is better. The simple thing for the Indians to do would be take their cues from the world champs in this form of the game, who always try to go at over a run a ball in the powerplay overs. And why not leave the sheet anchor's role to a junior for a change? Let them also get a chance to make it into the top ten of the ICC's stupid rankings, which give too little weightage to the scoring rate and impact on the game.