Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2012

The dream is dead

India's three stalwarts will never win a Test series in Australia. How broken they must feel

It's all over, as Bill Lawry would say. Sachin Tendulkar: 22 years of international cricket, five Test tours to Australia. Rahul Dravid: close to 16 years of international cricket, four tours to Australia. VVS Laxman: same as Dravid. They will never win a Test series in Australia. How broken the three must feel. Australia, the land that loved them and also broke their hearts, had to be part of reason they kept going at their age.

Australia, the big tease. Australia, where they came within three wickets or an enforced follow-on of winning a series in 2003-04. Australia, where they played the most bitter Test in recent memory but couldn't bat out two sessions and a bit. Australia, where Tendulkar is closing in on 2000 runs at an average of 58, where both Laxman and Dravid have more than 1000 at averages of over 45. Australia, where they shall never win a Test series.

The dream didn't even reach Perth. It sounds more natural when Lawry says, "It's all over at the WACA," as opposed to, "It's all over at the SCG". Well, it was tragicomic in the end, with the Indian tail swinging and reaching scores that have now become milestones for this side. Three hundred was almost slow-clap-worthy. Three fifty surprising. Four hundred unbelievable.

It gave you time to forget empathising. To stop wondering what the three would be going through, how they would be taking this. Later on, though, you did. You realised that - and you knew it for a while - the end is near. That the three might not have enough left in them to make it to late 2013, when India start playing away Tests again. They only come to Australia in 2014-15. For non-Australian players of this era, the World Cup and Australia tours have been the big motivation, the events they build up to. Brian Lara managed to win one series here, Jacques Kallis too.

Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman came here this final time with their best pre-series chance of winning. Two weeks in, the chance is no more. They were part of the reason this team was expected to do well. They have seen the team through the worst times. Times when the team wasn't even expected to compete outside India. They played a part in turning the team around. They went through disappointment and despair to finally see a time when they could actually be expected to win matches abroad.

They played a big part in this disappointment too. How they must be cursing themselves. Laxman scored 2, 1 and 2 in his first three innings. Dravid was not the Dravid of the last year, but fought to score a fifty at the MCG. He has been bowled thrice in this series. Tendulkar has looked in glorious touch, but was dismissed at the worst times. They are known for converting starts into big innings, for grinding the opposition down. Not a single century between them. Today, though, even the most hard-nosed analyst would have felt bad for them. Sport doesn't.

The Melbourne Test was within their grasp on three occasions, but they watched it slip: twice in the field, once through their collapse. Dravid dropped a catch, too. It was the bad old days of Indian cricket coming back. Too often in the recent past India have been napping at big moments in Tests.

The despair was reminiscent of their disappointment in beautiful Cape Town when, a year to the day, India let South Africa escape through defensive fields and uninspired bowling. The three saw their last chance of winning a series there disappear then. At least they came close then. At least Laxman made a big contribution in the previous Test. At least Tendulkar scored a superlative hundred against a red-hot Dale Steyn at Newlands.

At least India drew the series in South Africa. Here it will take a miracle for India to even come close to drawing the series. In all likelihood the three will have to live with the fact that their teams never played good enough cricket for long enough periods to win series in Australia and South Africa.

Trying to draw this series 2-2 and retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will keep them going. Life will go on as well. In fact it already has. An hour or so after the defeat in Sydney, the BCCI released the next IPL schedule, a whopping 53-day event. It's all over.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mitcher on January 9, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    @  Karthikayan T: yourself and a portion of your countrymen seem a little confused. Yes, Australia have a bad record in India. Not overseas in general. We all know India demolish opposition at home. That's the point. But they are significantly worse in almost every other country. Australia, even in a rebuilding phase, can't match the hopelessness of India abroad.

  • dummy4fb on January 9, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    Indian Team Performance always bad in overseas condition as bad as Bangladesh test team. Indian team is lion on Indian soil but wet cat at overseas venues.

    This is bitter truth.

  • cloudmess on January 9, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    I don't think the gulf between the two teams is that big, and I wouldn't be surprised if India came back to win at least one of the last two tests. But India have been horribly let down by some ultra-conservative tactics in the past 6 months, both here and in England. I fear some of this is down to having appointed the notoriously cautious Duncan Fletcher- a great coach of mediocre teams, and vice versa - at a time when India were riding so high.

  • donda on January 9, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    Oh it seems like Agneepath series has gone into agnee. Media always make things look bigger. It's ok to lose a series , it's ok to retire , it's ok to not win outside your home. Every team do that. What were every body expecting that australia at their home under new captain will allow india to win a series easily , ah never.

    Winning a series in australia is most difficult part of cricket and that's why england is #1 team because they won it last time but not again in next 20 years i bet.

    Aussies are so hard to beat at home just like a sumo wrestler. I hope to see good ODI series this time around and finally sachin gets his 100 100 and retire.

    No bad feeling, it's part of cricket, australia deserve series win and every body should accept it that no team can emulate what australia did in last 10 years. It was twice in 100 years history making thing. Not gonna happen again in years by any other team.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 9, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    @Raminder_Bali, ROFL....Hilarious....can't stop laughing at your terse comment. Very well said...hahahaha...

  • OutCast on January 9, 2012, 1:59 GMT

    Look at the Indian surge... I mean, they play more home games than outside... India play more minnows than mighty giants... India play on flat tracks and collect mountain of runs- which is PHONY... if India start playing for team victory, they may start winning cupla games, but every Indian on the team is playing for their individual place on the team... except Sachin- who is playing for his own record ha hahah... Look at Clarke, if Clarke was on Indian team he would've kept going until he broke Lara's 400 mark, but in Aus it doesn't happen...

  • Stevo_ on January 9, 2012, 1:07 GMT

    Indian cricket protect Sachin to a huge degree - no fielding, no press conference, no captaincy, preparing pitches for him to score on. So no reason he can't play on and on and on and on when he has the BCCI protecting him. SAid it before and I'll say it again - the majority of Indian cricket fans , aren't cricket fans they are Sachin fans and the BCCI know this and need to protect their $$

  • dummy4fb on January 9, 2012, 0:33 GMT

    First of all let me say that this doesn't change anything for any of those three. There's always some record, that is out there that a player doesn't achieve. Ponting wanted to win Three WC, Sachin wanted to score a century at Lords, Lara to score a century in India, and the list goes on. Its the press, public, and editors that come up with such things. For example, Sachins scoring 100 centuries. How is that even important, rather they should focus on 50 century in Tests and ODI, which the latter should be more important.

  • shahzaibq on January 8, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    I would like to see the Indian fans on this site who had predicted a series win for India... They had the illusion that Australia was on the decline, and this would be the time to catch them off guard. What they forgot was that Australia's second choice bowlers were better than India's first choice bowlers. The reason that India was number one was because they were good at home. That does not make a champion team. Neither does constantly playing a sub-par team like Sri Lanka. The Big 3 are still the best hope and replacing them will be tough, but India needs to pro-actively take that step, even if it means a slip in their rankings, lost series, etc. They're losing them anyway; why not do it with zealous, eager youngsters! Dhoni's captaincy record has been pure luck. Anyone who has the Big 3 + Sehwag and a confident Bhajji, will be a successful captain. The same could be said of Ponting with McGrath, Warne, Gilly, but he was aggressive, looking for wins instead of avoiding defeats.

  • C97Adnan on January 8, 2012, 21:59 GMT

    India can't win outside of their soil.They may be champion at home. I donot consider Kholi as star making why selector still giving him chance. That's enough. India has to play outside their soil to judge talent. I have seen Pakistan bringing back to track atleast learn from them my dear selector and coach.

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