The men in blue are struggling to shake away the Twenty20 blues. This is ironical considering India's triumph in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa led to an explosion of the game's shortest format in the country.

Subsequently, India has run into major road-blocks. The team's disappointments in Twenty20 continue.

The side went down 2-0 to the Kiwis in New Zealand earlier this year. Then, in the second edition of the World Twenty20 in England, India lost steam in the crucial second phase after defeating Bangladesh and Ireland, not the most threatening of teams, in the early stages.

Beaten by the West Indies, England and South Africa, the defending champions failed to qualify for the semifinals. Indeed, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have been consistently losing the crucial moments in big games.

This was evident in Nagpur on Wednesday. The Indian bowling wilted in the middle overs and at the death; the side created early pressure but spilled offerings. India's fielding and catching were below international standards.

As Dhoni admitted, India bled runs in the end overs. Changes in length and pace are crucial in this form of the game. When the Indian bowlers attempted to shift length, their line suffered. There were too many deliveries on the leg-stump. And with the fine-leg up, these were easy pickings for the Sri Lankans. The pacemen are not firing in well-directed yorkers.

Dhoni led a young team to a famous victory in South Africa in 2007 but those were early days for Twenty20 cricket, at least on the international arena. Subsequently, the other teams have caught up and a few of them have taken the format to a different level. India has stagnated.

Even in the Champions League in India earlier this year, none of the Indian franchises made it to the last four stage. These are worrying signs.

Twenty20 cricket is a compressed form of the game where the margin for error is little. Its is also a format where you have to be street smart.

After Gautam Gambhir's glorious stroke-play on the chase at the VCA Stadium, the Indian batting lacked cricketing nous.

India had the run-rate within control when Gambhir departed and one of the batsmen should have worked the ball around, rotated the strike. The Sri Lankan bowling was under severe pressure at that point. But then, most of the subsequent batsmen perished to catches in the deep with ill-advised lofted hits. All of them were playing the same game when winning cricket is often about changing game-plan when a situation unfolds.

The Indian batsmen, save Gambhir, went for power alone. They failed to learn from Kumar Sangakkara's example; the Sri Lankan captain also harnessed the pace on the ball, collected runs with fine placements. The Indians missed a trick.

The match brought back memories of the ICC World Twenty20 duel between India and South Africa in Nottingham.

India chased just 131 on a sluggish surface encouraging spin but lost its way with major batsmen attempting ambitious shots. Instead of the ball clearing the ropes, India collapsed. Spinners Johan Botha and van der Merwe closing out the match for South Africa. Surprisingly, the wristy Indian batsmen did not attempt to pick up singles and twos. If the Indian batsmen were undone by spin in this match, they had been found wanting when pacemen from the West Indies and England employed the bouncer-fuller ball routine with telling effect.

Things seem to have turned worse. Some of the Indian lapses on the field against Sri Lanka were shocking; a few of the youngsters were not getting the basics right. New fielding coach Michael Young has a demanding job ahead.

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