Fall of the Champions and the rise of the phoenix
In a statement, Rahul Dravid summarized the entire misery of the Indian team. He said "we expected england to be good but we expected us to be better".
I use the word 'misery' because your strike bowler gets injured in the first test, your first choice spinner looks out of sort till he gets injured, the rest of the bowling unit suddenly starts looking insipid, the famed batting line-up fails collectively, the captain with midas touch suddenly turns all that glitters into steel!
The problem is that we exaggerate misfortune and happiness alike. We are never as bad off or as happy as we say we are . Though we were the number one team prior to this series, we were not the most threatening team in the world. We have lost 3-0 in the series so far and look all set to make it 4-0, we are certainly not as bad as the scoreline would suggest. Most of the accolades that came our way in the journey to the top was due to our famed batting line-up. Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Gambhir, someone or the other clicked with support by the likes of Dhoni and Raina. But when this very unit fails to score even 300 runs in as much as six innings in a series, the writing is very much on the wall, unless the bowling unit does something miraculous. After the retirement of Anil Kumble, and without the presence of Zaheer and Harbhajan, taking 20 wickets in a match has been almost an impossible task for the bowlers.
The 'home-friendly' schedule has had lot to do with India's Number one ranking. Taking no credit away from Team India, it was hard work and commitment of senior players that made them reach to the top spot. While England now are on the ascent, Aussies are in re-building phase, India very much lies in a confused state. The backbone of their success is turning older and older, and within couple of years or sooner, some retirements are very much on the cards. What will hurt India is the fact that during their glory days, they didn't prepare their youngsters for the worst. The likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, S Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma should have been groomed by now to play the test cricket at its best.
England very much look like the team to beat when they play in swinging conditions, largely because of their tall fast bowlers. Can they repeat the same performance in sub-continent conditions? I am really skeptical about it! So its not the time to press the panic button, but it is really a time to analyze a bit more and prepare youngsters for the task ahead when the glorious legends retire.