This tour has been bad news for India. It began without Zaheer Khan who soon was joined by Sreesanth on the injured bench. Harbhajan Singh hasn’t yet completely got the flu out of his system. Yuvraj recovers from pain in the neck but then is struck by raging fever.
Gautam Gambhir looked forward to life without Lasith Malinga but then a blow on the knee before the second Test took him out of the equation. The toss too hasn’t flipped in India’s favour.
The worry is that the Indians haven’t stood up to the blizzards of disaster which the world's number one team ought to have. They appear to have gone through the motions, resigned to their fate and thus, were mercilessly hammered by the Sri Lankans. Bowling has been ordinary; fielding more so and even defensive ploys haven’t worked. If India were to lose this Test, they would cease being number one.
Recovery thereafter would be difficult without a good set of bowlers. Unless and until something dramatic happens, India look ripe for the picking in the next few months.
Besides the obvious weak areas, fitness assumes immediate priority. Without a fit set of players, India can’t be on top for long. Maybe it’s time now to discard the optional nets theory. India is not dissimilar to the position they were in during the Galle Test. They have long days to negotiate and even though the two “Ms” are missing from the action, another M, Ajantha Mendis, is keen to redeem his reputation. With the eyes of the nation on them, there is the usual heat on Dhoni and his men. Could India have done anything different?
On a pitch that offered little help to seam, swing or spin first up, only unusual quality in a bowler can help a fielding side.