The nightmare has finally ended for Indian cricket with another drubbing in the fourth and final Test match at the Adelaide Oval. If those who care about Indian cricket do not wake up and do something about it then the nightmares will recur again and again.
Never before has an Indian team left for Australia with such high hopes. There were no controversies about selection, there was no complaint that the team was going there late and not having enough games to tune up for the Test matches.
If anything, even the most critical agreed that this Indian team had it in them to beat Australia for the first time in a series. Australia were going through tough times with losses to South Africa and New Zealand, there were questions asked about some of its stalwarts and its pace attack was raw and inexperienced.
Everything pointed favourably towards India. Even after the first day's play in Melbourne the game was balanced and hopes were high. Then, as happened in England, the Australian tail resisted and put on more runs than they should and that bolstered the feeling in the Aussie camp. All eyes were on how the new look pace attack would fare against the rampaging Sehwag and the solid Gambhir.
Ever since he fell on the back of his head in the Test in England, Gambhir has not looked the same player. He has been tentative and unsure and stamina wise too has given the impression that he was tiring just a little too quickly. His early dismissal meant that Dravid had to come in to face the new ball and bowlers who were fresh and had tasted blood.
Despite what the popular belief is, all of Sehwag's big innings have come when he has spent a good ten overs or so without playing any extravagant shot. After that, all his expansive shots also come off. Unfortunately he did not give himself the time to settle down and tried to live upto the reputation of being a dasher and came a cropper because this time the Australians had planned well and placed fielders in the right positions and more importantly bowled in the space which restricts his arms.
People made excuses that he is one who will hit the ball if it is there to be hit as if others don't. It is shot selection that is the key to run-making and if that means giving more deliveries respect then so be it. By not giving respect he lost his wicket time and again.
Dravid in the last year or so, had stopped his back foot movement and was stretching out on to the front foot often ending up playing deliveries wide of the stumps and in doing so his back foot was on the fifth stump outside leg. That is the reason when he missed the ball there was no back foot to stop it from crashing onto the stumps. Mind you he had got over 1000 runs with that technique earlier on in the last year.
Tendulkar looked in good touch in the first two Tests but his getting out when he was well set seemed to have affected his confidence too and in the next two Tests he was not moving as well as he had in the first two.
For Laxman, like Sehwag, the legs are there mainly to support the upper torso but their hand-eye coordination is such that they don't need to get their feet towards the pitch of the ball but when a bad patch is happening then the lack of feet movement is a big handicap.
Kohli was the one who fought battles on various fronts. He first battled with his own belief about his ability at this level, then with the crowds and he was always battling with the opposition. Unfortunately not many others were prepared to submit their egos and change their approach like the young man did.
The bowling depended on Zaheer to get the breakthroughs regularly. Yadav was the only one to get a 'fiver' but his inexperience meant that he sprayed the ball on both sides of the stumps and was thus expensive. Ishant flattered to deceive and Ashwin bowled well without looking as if he would run through the team and with no all-rounder worth the name India were struggling whenever there was a partnership.
The fielding was hardly of international standards with too many players needing to be hidden which will change only when young fresh legs get in the team. The wakeup call is loud and clear. Let's hope the snooze button is not pressed like it was after the England tour.
Professional Management Group
Kohli and Umesh Yadav have given India a glimmer of hope