The New Year has begun on the same note for India as the last year finished - with a crushing defeat. While the loss in itself should be agonising as it gave Pakistan a series win, the larger picture brought forth by the back-to-back defeats should set alarm bells ringing for Indian cricket, assuming weren't already.
This small series against Pakistan have made two things very clear. One, our batsmen can't bat in testing conditions against a quality attack; and our bowlers can't be lethal even in conducive conditions. And that leaves this team and fans with pretty much nothing to look forward to.On a day when India won an important toss and put Pakistan in to bat under overcast skies and on a moist wicket, the home fans would have expected a Pakistan collapse - just like India did in Chennai in almost similar conditions.
Unfortunately, the 60,000-plus vociferous crowd at the Eden Gardens witnessed almost a replay of the Chennai collapse. While the Pakistan openers not just survived but thrived in testing conditions - they put up 141 runs for the first wicket - the Indian batsmen cut a sorry figure yet again.
"I can't exactly say why our batsmen are struggling. You need your senior and top order batsmen to take responsibility when the team is going through a transitional phase…that's unfortunately not happening," said MS Dhoni, trying hard not to sound too critical about the seniors in the side.
It's, however, no secret that the team is suffering because the openers are struggling to give a solid start, something they did regularly when the team was on top.
While Gautam Gambhir has looked clearly in discomfort throughout the series, Virender Sehwag has been vulnerable in testing conditions for some time now. And then, players like Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja haven't taken the numerous opportunities given to them.
Besides, the team has bungled with selecting the final XI. Clearly, Ajinkya Rahane had looked far more comfortable facing the Pakistan quicks in the T20s.
But instead of retaining him - he could have easily come in for Gambhir, Rohit or Jadeja - the skipper wanted him to "wait for his chances". Here, Dhoni had to cop the blame for not being brave enough to get him in the side.The situation is hardly encouraging in the bowling department. With bowlers spending more time in recuperating from injuries than on the field, it's unlikely the scenario on the bowling front is going to change anytime soon.
It must be mentioned, though, that this new-look attack wasn't a let-down. It's just that when compared to the menacing Pakistan attack, it looks inadequate.
Coming as it does after the debacle against England, this loss extends India's string of losses at home. The fans would want some decisive changes in the team, but that's looks unlikely.
"I don't think you should be expressing yourself too much because everybody is emotional after a big win or a loss. That's a tough time, and these moments should not be tackled when you are emotional. You have to be calm and cool and see what needs to be done," said Dhoni.