Hyderabad: A reality check awaits the Indian cricket team as it gears up to begin life without the famed batting duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman when they take on a lowly New Zealand in the first Test of the two-match series here tomorrow.
Sachin Tendulkar is the only player left of the 'Fabulous Five' brigade after Sourav Ganguly, followed by Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, and most recently, VVS Laxman bid adieu to international cricket.
Now the challenge for India is to overcome the transition phase in the upcoming home season, in which the team would play 10 Tests, 13 ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals, apart from the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka in September.
It is no secret that the mighty Australians are still struggling after the fading away of their cricketing greats. Thus, India's young brigade would be keen to overcome this tough phase with the help of Tendulkar's experience before their real test starts in 2013 when they take on the current No. 1 Test side, South Africa.
Moreover, the Indian team is returning to Test action after a gap of seven months, which was preceded by two disastrous Test series.
After being drubbed 0-4 in England that stripped India off their No. 1 Test status, an identical rout followed in Australia.
The aftermath of the debacle was even more disturbing as Dravid and Laxman, the two important pillars of Indian cricket, retired ahead of the start of the new season.
Their absence would mean that India would be without the two prolific scorers, who had a total tally of 22,069 Test runs in 298 matches, almost after 16 years.