Turn for the worse at Wankhede
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A week ago, except for the perpetually paranoid and the outright cynical, everyone had reason to be optimistic about the Indian Test side. The frame of two smiling 24-year-olds, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, walking off the Motera turf after sealing a win that was orchestrated by a couple of 26-year-old spinners, R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, had a positive vibe about it that was too real to be dismissed. If not a new dawn, the promise of a resurgent Indian side did not seem to be one that would fade away just seven days after the opening Test.
If India's nine-wicket win against England at Ahmedabad wasn't reason enough to predict a 4-0 win for the home team, the 10-wicket loss at Mumbai can't be a basis for a 1-3 England win forecast. The reversal at Wankhede should be followed by a precise postmortem, but it shouldn't trigger a witch-hunt. India happens to be a team in transition, desperately trying to find its feet in a season that follows a couple of high-profile retirements. As is the case with all such teams, along with the highs, there will be periodic lows. Indian cricket watchers, that high-reaction tribe, will have to be patient with the team's inconsistency. Fans of other teams, the Australians included, have endured it and so should the ones wearing the tri-colour on their sleeves.
It should be understood that the Indian team's 20-somethings are still exploring their art and figuring out their strengths. Pragyan Ojha is the most experienced among the just-graduated bunch. The present series has seen Ojha getting the label of India's "spin spearhead" for the first time in his career. His spin-partner Ashwin too is still emerging from the shadows of Harbhajan "Turbanator" Singh. With such largely untested youngsters in the team, even skipper M.S. Dhoni and the team management are unsure about the conditions that will collectively lift the team's skill level.