India’s capitulation in the Test series in England is not just shocking but points to a deep malaise.
While it continues a sorry trend (while playing overseas) that began in Britain in 2011, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side lost all four Tests, winning a Test this time does not mitigate the situation.
Three years ago, much was made of the ageing batting stalwarts, and now the skipper has pointed to a loss of confidence among the talented-but-inexperienced replacements like Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.
However, India will have to look within. Their catching was appalling, and the spills sucked the fight out of the seamers, who did create chances in helpful conditions.
That the batsmen did not get to 200 runs in the last five innings rendered the bowlers’ job meaningless, with dropped chances further killing any comeback hopes.
In 2011, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ignored calls for removing Dhoni, who has been dubbed a defensive captain — some of his selections and fielding choices like having a leg slip for a seamer when the ball was swinging defied logic.
Again, Dhoni has dismissed questions whether he should step down. This is the fifth overseas Test series in a row that India have lost. In the previous one, in New Zealand, dropped catches led to defeat.
And coach Duncan Fletcher should take plenty of blame for not stepping up when the top-order batsmen were waiting for the likes of fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and even part-time spinner Moeen Ali, to end their misery.
The Indian cricket board, which continues to give Dhoni a very long rope in Test cricket, must step in and demand answers from the team management.
In New Zealand, India inexplicably kept out leading domestic seamer Ishwar Pandey though they were losing badly in the One-day series.
He did well in the only side game he got to play. Such decisions need to be probed closely, which only the administrators can. The poor fitness of our seamers is another worry. Unless urgent steps are taken, the Australia tour at the end of the year and the World Cup next February can end in disasters.