As they look at the packed schedule for the upcoming season, India players would be feeling like soldiers who know they are in for a long and gruelling battle ahead.
Starting October 1, India take on Australia, New Zealand and South Africa before entering the mother of all tournaments - the World Cup - which will be followed by the IPL that stretches till May-end.
In this action, the real challenge comes not from the opposition but within. The programme is seriously demanding but the problem gets magnified because India players are not exactly known for athleticism or a healthy work ethic.
What is worrying is that the established stars are advanced in age and rich in experience whereas modern cricket demands youthful energy and fresh legs. Do India have the tools to tackle the challenges that lie ahead? At present, the team looks unsettled with the main players either injured or searching for form and the bench strength does not inspire confidence.
Still, from the batting standpoint, there is comfort because the flat tracks favour players who get onto the front foot and drive through the line.
The worry though is the bowling because we don’t have the explosive firepower to blow away good players and lack quality spinners except for an injured/unfit Harbhajan Singh, whose recent performance has been inconsistent.
After Anil Kumble, the leg-spinner’s slot remains open and while various left-arm options have been tried, there is no automatic name to put on the team sheet.
Actually, more than the performance of individual players, what is crucial is how the team fares in the run-up to the big games. India rely on momentum --- they can suddenly look unbeatable or dreadful, and if matches against South Africa don’t go according to plan, trouble lies ahead in the World Cup.
In the unfolding action, the focus will be on two remarkable players, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
For Tendulkar, winning the World Cup will be the ultimate triumph in a glittering career. If he continues to maintain top form, the only issue is whether his body can hold up and take the physical strain.
For Sehwag, seen till now as an entertainer, the next season is an opportunity to confirm his growing stature as a match-winner who is fearlessly aggressive, always on the front-foot!