The end of India's golden era
The time has come for some of the greatest masters that the game has ever seen to leave Team India.
It is hard to say whether Australia have rediscovered their mojo or whether India are in a free fall. The latter seems more plausible considering that India have lost seven away Test matches on a trot with four against England. Barring the series against West Indies at home, the team that was ranked number one about six months ago has been in a continuous free fall since the start of the ill-fated tour of England last year.
The major issue leading to this has been the inability of the heavyweight batting order to pull its weight. The Indian batting line-up comprises of some of the leading players of this era and should send shivers down the spines of any bowling line-up and captain. But it has collectively misfired in the last six months or so.
Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman have all failed to live up to their reputations in Test cricket and the Indian team has suffered for it. It hasn’t helped that newcomers like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina have found the going tough in foreign conditions. Dhoni, the captain, has lacked imagination and has allowed matches to wander out of his grasp while also failing to score runs as freely as he usually does in home conditions.
In England, Dravid – the proverbial wall - scored three centuries and was the only shining beacon of India’s batting line-up. But in Australia the wall became leaky and lead to dismissals. Dravid has been bowled five times in his last six innings in Australia while Tendulkar still hasn't been able to score his hundredth 100 in international cricket, something which seems to be playing on his mind. Laxman, the tormentor of Australians for a decade, has not been able to get going either. Collectively, the top five averaged less than 29 in their last seven away Tests. This is unacceptable, especially when those five read as they do and have averaged almost 51 throughout their career.
It is easy to blame foreign conditions and pitches that have suited the opposition’s style of bowling but the truth is that these are not uncharted territory for this batting lineup. Pitches haven’t been as spiteful as you would think either, considering the opposition batsmen have thrived on these very same wickets. Alistair Cook scored a magnificent 294 single handedly on the same pitch that the Indians couldn't manage a 300 on in either innings collectively. Michael Clarke scored a triple 100 by himself on a pitch where the Indian’s tumbled like nine pins in the first innings. Some of this may have been due to a lack of penetrating bowling by the Indians and the superb use of any help on offering by the opposition. But it still showed that if the Indian team had applied itself on the wicket, the runs would have come.
The time has come for some of the greatest masters that the game has seen to leave, for India needs to look at its future. These men have provided great joy to cricket followers over the course of two decades but the calling for their heads is getting stronger by the day. The theme in India seems to be that if they have to lose, they should lose with the youngsters and groom them future matches.
The maestros should not be chucked aside immediately. It should be a gradual process with the younger generation learning the trade under them.
It is certain that the golden age of Indian cricket has ended and with that also ends the collection of possibly the best batting talent of the last two decades. The Adelaide Test against Australia probably provides us the last opportunity to see these great men in action at the same time and reminisce about the great joy they have brought us over the years. Such a collection of defining batsmen may never play for the same team again!
In another era, these batsmen would have been given the task to take India forward, but sadly their time has now ended. It remains to be seen which of the new generation will take it upon themselves to fill out their shoes.