MS Dhoni alongwith teammates celebrating after won the 3rd ODI against Pakistan at Firozshah Kotla ground in New Delhi. UNI photo
The celebrations said it all. This victory meant a lot to beleaguered India. Not only did it spare them the ignominy of a whitewash but it also must have lifted their sagging spirits following the series loss to Pakistan.
Yet, not much could be read into this win with regard to the current health of India's cricket.
Yes, the bowlers did an excellent job to defend a modest total of 167 and the fielding was electric too despite the biting cold.
And, yes, that desperation and desire to win didn't look in short supply.
But the batting - the Achilles heel of late -- turned out to be just the same as in the last two matches.
The top order batsmen hopped around yet again like novices before skipper MS Dhoni chipped in with a few runs towards the end to give the bowlers something to bowl at.
On the whole, however, this series, following the debacle against England in the Test series, has sort of pushed Indian cricket into an era of ordinariness. And, by the look of things, it will last for a while.
As bad as this situation may appear as of now, this is still not the most worrying part. In relatively better times, the solution would have been easy - dump the non-performers and get in those knocking at the doors from the domestic circuit.
Now, if one looks across the 27 domestic teams and tries and come up with a couple of players who have been consistent performers for at least two seasons and can stake a claim in the national side, they will find there's hardly anyone.
That we keep going back to the same people over and over again -- Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, to name a few - also show how bare our cupboard is.
Perhaps, it just can't be helped. When someone scores two triple hundreds in the space of a few games, he can't be ignored.
But when the same fellow looks out of depth at the international stage, the structure and standard of our domestic cricket also comes under a cloud.
And then, there is the IPL. Quite a few, mainly those benefitting from the cash-rich league, believe it's an easy target for everyone not benefitting from it.
Even Dhoni feels "it's a soft target and all ills afflicting Indian cricket are blamed on it".
The reality, at least in the current scenario, appears quite different. Instead of throwing up the talent for Indian cricket, it's actually feeding on it.
When players play through it with injuries, risking their availability in the national side, it can't be seen as helping Indian cricket.Scorecard