India's old guard put on notice
MS Dhoni admits India must start looking to the future after they return home from a nightmare tour of Australia.
Last Updated: 15/01/12 11:20am
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has hinted some of India's veteran batting stars could be playing their final Test series after they surrendered the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to Australia following a thumping defeat in Perth.
Australia took an unassailable 3-0 lead after they completed an innings and 37 runs win in just over two days at the WACA Ground.
In both innings India's star-studded top order failed to fire, with reports following the game that 37-year-old right-hander VVS Laxman was set to call time on his 133-Test career.
After being rattled out for 161 on the opening day, and then seeing David Warner smash the equal fourth-quickest Test century from 69 balls, India never recovered and failed to make Australia bat again despite a battling 75 from Virat Kohli.
The 23-year-old's innings was the only bright spot of a match in which India's famed elder statesmen such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Laxman again fell flat on a pacy wicket.
While Dhoni refused to speculate on Laxman's future, he revealed he would look to sit down with the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the senior players after the series and discuss the direction of a team.
"It is important to be in the present and look at what must be done. At the moment we are not going forward," he said. "We must realise how to do well out of India and take steps to do that.
"(We won't discuss it) right now, but maybe at the end of the series and we have to see what the seniors' thoughts are.
"It will be a very careful decision that will be taken because of what will be done for the country.
"It will be a phase when it happens though, we can't have all the seniors leave and the juniors come in. We need the right balance.
"It will definitely be a good option to see the youngsters coming in. We are playing tough opposition so at the same time I think it will be a good exposure for them."
That could mean the likes of the uncapped Rohit Sharma come into the side, while Kohli could be promoted up the order for the final Test of the series in Adelaide in a fortnight - when India will look to avoid a second successive series whitewash away from home.
Dhoni's side were thrashed 4-0 in England last summer, to meekly hand over the number one Test ranking, and the skipper admitted since then his team had sunk to one of their lowest points in recent history.
"Certainly as far as the amount of cricket I've seen this is definitely one of the worst phases we are in," he said.
"We have not done consistently well. You saw that in England with the four Test matches out there and again I am repeating myself.
"We have not put runs on the board. We have to look at things because the batsmen are flopping at times."
Dhoni also took the brunt of blame for his side's failings, after he managed just two with the bat, leaving him with an average of 20.2 in the series.
It set off a stunning tail end collapse after lunch as India lost their final four wickets without scoring - including losing three wickets in one Ben Hilfenhaus over.
"I need to blame myself because I am the leader of the side. Of course, I am the main culprit," he added.
Despite the decisiveness of Australia's win, skipper Michael Clarke warned his side they "had not achieved much yet" as he aims to steer them back to the top of the Test rankings.
Australia have been plagued by inconsistency since Clarke took over last August, most noticeably being bowled out for 47 in South Africa two months ago before drawing a home series with lowly New Zealand.
But the 30-year-old believes the emphatic nature of the series win over the second-ranked Indians proved they are on the rise and warned his side would go for a whitewash in the dead rubber at Adelaide.
"There is no such thing as a dead rubber for me," he said. "We haven't achieved much yet at this stage. We should be very proud to have beaten the number two ranked team in this series and we've done a lot of hard work.
"But we've got a lot more hard work to do before we'll be satisfied. In Adelaide you'll see that.
"It's nice to win this series but as I've said before our goal is to be the number one Test team in the world and we're a long way from that."
He also praised man-of-the-match Warner, whose 180 confirmed his ascent from limited-overs cricket.
"It's great to see a kid who everyone thought was just a Twenty20 player 12 months ago walk out and play the same in the baggy green," added Clarke.
"I've said to David there's no reason he can't have success in any form of the game given his talent."