India have a lot to ponder after the first two Tests in Australia. It's not the loss but the manner in which they have been outplayed that will be of concern. Indian cricket has taken a lot of pride in its performance overseas in the last 10 years, but the fear I have now is, have we taken a huge step backward?
India did manage to change its perception as far as playing aggressive cricket overseas was concerned during that period, but the question is, at the fag end of their careers, is India again becoming a soft target overseas?
Well, there is still some time to pass a judgement, but I must say time is running away fast and this team quickly needs to find a way out to get the monkey off their back. There are a few areas one can pinpoint for the losses. But, the biggest reason is the failure of the bowling and batting unit to fire at the same time and hold the game by the neck at crucial junctures.
Letting them off
Take for instance the second Test in Nottingham, when England were 120 for 8 on Day One and yet managed 225. India could never get back into the game and got beaten 4-0.
They were in a similar situation in Melbourne with Australia reeling on 217 for 7 but the lower order got the hosts a lead of 334 runs. India tumbled from 214 for 3 to get knocked out for 280.
Winning cricket matches is about seizing the moment and that did not happen. Indian batting has been rated very highly for the last 10 years, but somewhere in the last few Tests, they have found themselves in difficult positions.
India batsmen have scored more than 450 runs in almost every innings, especially when they were at their best in the last 10 years, but that is not the case anymore. As a team, if one doesn’t get past that total in any one innings of a Test — especially the first — then that team will find itself in trouble.
India’s problem has also been the new ball every time they have batted in Tests abroad. None of the openers have gone on to make hundreds or put up a fair partnership to take the shine off the new ball. Teams have also become clever. Just like India prepares turning pitches, there is an effort to leave grass on the pitch when India play abroad. They know that it’s an ageing batting line-up and the new players are still finding their feet.
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The writer is former India captain & a TV commentator