The India team's series routs in England and Australia had set the alarm bells ringing. Now, after being outplayed at home as well, first by England and now by main rivals Pakistan, there is genuine fear of the team in transition going into a slump.
India's former greats have pointed out many aspects that have led to the current state of affairs --- lack of planning in anticipation of the retirements of the batting greats, coach Duncan Fletcher being ineffective, skipper MS Dhoni looking a pale shadow of his former self and the selectors not wielding the axe on struggling players.Former Pakistan pace great, captain and coach, Waqar Younis, is shocked at the way the India team in unravelling, while praising the way in which the eternally crisis-ridden Pakistan have adopted a refreshing approach by staying focused on the job at hand.
On Friday, the former Pakistan speed merchant stood marvelling India's fastest pitch, the home straight of the Buddh International F1 circuit, which he and former teammates, Inzamam ul-Haq, Saeed Anwar and Mushtaq Ahmed, visited with family members. While they were in good spirits, Waqar, not too long back Pakistan's coach, was scathing about the India team.
He was clear what ails India. He declared the time has come to throw out non-performers and bring in youngsters. In fact, he was surprised the selectors had not shown urgency by including Cheteshwar Pujara for the inconsequential final one-dayer in Delhi on Sunday.
Waqar squarely blamed the Indian Premier League. "I too like watching the IPL. But IPL should be meaningful. It has been six years, but if it is not producing cricketers who can serve India at the international level, then IPL is a waste."
The huge sums being handed out to players may actually be detrimental to their development and focus, he told HT. "Are you saying that before IPL people were dying? These days, players get good money even in Ranji Trophy. You don't have to give everyone millions to make a good team. I don't think IPL is helping India's international cricket.
"And India is playing the same old people, it's the same old story. You are still good on paper — Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni — kisko nahin chahiye aise batsmen? But what has been the progress in the last one year? If there is none, then bring in some youngster."
"Why not put Pujara and Rahane in Sunday's ODI? The team has lost the series. They might save it from losing 3-nil. At the moment, I don't see that happening. Pakistan, the way they are playing, I'm sure will win."
The Pakistan selectors have been more dynamic. "Mohammad Irfan bowled well in the T20s and the selectors promptly retained him for the ODIs, and he has done well."