Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a jinxed man in his corner and it’s none other than coach Duncan Fletcher.
For all the praise and admiration the Zimbabwean gets in the cricketing world for his technical wisdom, his record in Australia is as abysmal as it gets.
Fletcher, while he was coach of England and now India, has lost 10 of the 11 Tests he has been involved in Australia.
In 2002-03, when Fletcher brought over an England team to Australia, his team was drubbed 4-1. The 2005 visit Down Under was worse as the hosts wiped the floor clean with an English side by a 5-0 margin.
Fletcher’s overseas record with India is similarly dismal. He began in West Indies where India won 1-0 but lost countless admirers for refusing to chase down 85 runs off 15 overs for victory, with seven wickets in hand, to win the final Test in Dominica.
The painful memories of England are too vivid when India were humiliated 4-0 by the hosts this summer and the one-day series was no better where another clean sweep was awaiting the tourists.
The loss in Melbourne makes it five successive losses for India in last five Tests and there isn’t any sign that batsmen are any better at facing the swing deliveries than they were in England.
The batting camp to counter swing, ordered by Australia, was a clear signal that the tourists would be served with hostile batting conditions where seam and swing would be the king.
Tourists, in their wisdom, arrived early but were stationed in Canberra where the Manuka Oval pitch is closer to conditions back home than the grassy, lively pitches which are their fate in the Test series.
For all practical purposes, Fletcher is a coach without powers -- a widely different position than that of his Australian counterpart Mickey Arthur who is also one of the selectors.
For instance, India didn’t do any practice today nor would they do any on the last day of the year tomorrow in Sydney.
The 63-year-old, unlike former coach John Wright who once brought his Indian wards straight from the airport, virtually, to the nets at the SCG in 2003-04, isn’t yet prepared to shake his boys out of their comfort zone.
Each to his own or each to his doom is presently the underlying theme with the Indians whereas they ought to be having a batting camp of their own in whatever time that is available before the Sydney Test.
The batsmen need to feed off each other and work as a group if the lost ground at the MCG is to be recovered.