With 10 defeats in its last 12 Tests abroad, Dhoni's side is incredibly fortunate to be second in the ICC rankings.
The Indians lacked killer instinct on the rather disastrous tour of New Zealand — that ability to go for the jugular when on top.
They were the happy tourists, content with their displays irrespective of the results, applauding the opposition and not introspecting to see where the problems lay.
It was disappointing to hear skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni say at the end of the Test series that he was happy with the bowlers.
Surely you don’t utter these words when you have lost the ODI series 4-0 and the Test series 1-0. Particularly after the bowlers had allowed a Brendon McCullum-inspired New Zealand stage a great escape at the Basin Reserve.
One would have expected the skipper to send a strong message to his men. If a captain does not act tough in times like these, complacency creeps in.
When a side has a 246-run lead in the first innings, reduces the opposition to 94 for five with more than two days remaining and still fails to close out the contest, there is a serious issue.
It was a similar story in the first Test of the South Africa series in Johannesburg where Dhoni’s men blew a glorious opportunity on the final day.
The Indians have let decisive moments fly by. They have simply not pounced on the opposition when sniffing a win.
India won a vital toss in Wellington. The greenish pitch on the first day was such that almost every ball could have had the batsman’s name on it. Then the moisture dried out.
The spin of the coin should have settled the match; instead the Indians let the Kiwis wriggle out.
And a refusal to admit flaws is disturbing.
The Indians dropped two series-deciding catches off McCullum on the third day at the Basin Reserve.
Yet, when Cheteshwar Pujara was asked a question on India’s fielding, he replied: “It has mostly been fantastic.”Not attacking enough
The field placings were not attacking enough; easy singles were conceded to take the pressure off.
And deliveries were sent down on both sides of the pitch. Is this acceptable bowling?
When the pitch stopped assisting seam, the bowlers did not display air speed and swing — this does not depend on surfaces — to go past defences.
A look at the bowling figures for the series tells the story.
Ishant Sharma, impressive in phases but someone who has lost the toe-crusher, took 15 wickets at 25.13 in the two Tests.
Shami’s 10 scalps came at 35.10 and Zaheer took nine at 42.44.
The bowling was shoddy in the first innings in Auckland, and the second here. In the context of the series, these were very important days.
The Indian pace pack did combine rather brilliantly in the second innings at Auckland and the first innings of the second Test but then a Test is played over two innings. Consistency was lacking.
Shami is becoming predictable with his methods and has to work on conventional swing. Zaheer is at that stage of his career where he needs the pitch to do a bit for him.
India requires the pace and fire of Umesh Yadav.
Ravindra Jadeja was ordinary. There was hardly any deception in the air; he averaged 85.66. On surfaces where the ball does not grip, he is not much of a force.
There were positives for India in the form of opener Shikhar Dhawan (215 runs at 53.75) and Ajinkya Rahane (162 runs at 54).
Virat Kohli (214 at 71.33) came up with a battling century on the series’ final day but the talented batsman would be bitterly disappointed with the horrendous shot he played in the second innings of the first Test. That indiscreet stroke might have cost India the match and the series.
One would have to reserve judgment on the emerging batting line-up though.
In Auckland and then in Wellington, India did not have to bat first when there was considerable assistance for seamers. Subsequently, the pitch flattened out at both venues.
With 10 defeats in its last 12 Tests abroad, India is incredibly fortunate to be second in the ICC rankings.