India’s 0-3 scoreline with a match to go in the four-Test match series against England will only surprise those who have only passing acquaintance with the game, shout Chak de India or Jeetega bhai jeetega as if the other side is only playing to help “us” win, and are only bothered about how much Sachin Tendulkar scores.
The deep cracks in Indian cricket—an ageing batting lineup, an unfit fielding side, injured bowlers, poor bench strength, a preponderance of limited overs cricket, etc—had been papered over by the heady (even if unexpected) World Cup victory and the anything-goes Twenty20 format of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Truth is, India’s strength was always going to be tested in the longer, more testing format of the five-day game against quality opposition, and not surprisingly all these cracks have been exposed most mercilessly by England. That it should come after all the hoo-ha over the centenary Test match is only incidental.
However, defeat is a part of sport. What is more worrisome is what the future portends for the Indian Test team.
As it is, the only top-order batsman with runs in this series has been the 38-year-old Rahul Dravid; the bowling still depends on an always injured and hobbling Zaheer Khan, who is 32. With Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman both on the other side of 35,the simple question to ponder is, is the golden era of India in Test match cricket, which began at the turn of the new millennium, over? Will future Indian teams (at least for a while) only shine in the shorter, more paying versions of the game—and mostly at home? Or will this too pass?
External reading: The worst-ever debacle?