India’s hopes of beginning the New Year with a win were dashed by an abysmal display of batting by its much fancied batsmen, and the loss by 85 runs was a huge one indeed. India's success in the World Cup while being a team effort was to a great extent due to its batsmen. They were excellent in just about every match and there was always someone or the other who came and played the knock that made a difference.
It is this which is missing over the last year and half and so the team has struggled to make an impact. There is no doubt about the talent of the batsmen for they have shown it over the years, but seldom has there been a situation where there has been a loss of form and a collective failure of the batsmen match after match as has occurred in the last 18 months.
The team has hardly got a platform from the openers and so that has put pressure on the batsmen coming down the order and they too have not been able to cope and it has been left to the skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to wage a lone battle. His century in Chennai has to be one of the finest seen in India’s one-day cricket history.
That is why it was crucial that he pushed himself up the order in the Kolkata game that India had to win to stay in the series. He knew that the batsmen were out of form and with he being the only batsman with some confidence, he should have promoted himself to number four if not higher if he wanted to rest a bit after keeping wickets earlier.
It is this reluctance to take the initiative and be proactive that is hampering his captaincy. Whether he is getting any advice from the coach nobody knows, but it is here that the coach has to come and help. The coach has to have a cooler calmer perspective away from the hurly burly of the action on the field, and it appears that Dhoni is not getting the kind of help and advice that he needs.
Tactically Dhoni has not been great, but he has the feel that is essential and sometimes the instinct that makes a great move, but as the team starts to underperform the pressure builds up and that instinct to take a call dies down and is suppressed in favour of caution. That he does not even have the bowling to take advantage of the pitch is also a big handicap for Dhoni and so the team is invariably facing a mountain to climb.
Pakistan are on a roll, thanks to the starts that it is getting with the bat and the ball. The openers are giving them just the brisk beginning that they want and the opening bowlers are getting the top India wickets that is then helping the spinners to come and bowl their overs without being expensive. The matches are turning out to be no contests.
There are some hard decisions ahead for Indian cricket.
Professional Management Group