Once India were called 'Tigers Home, Rabbits Abroad' in cricket. During Mohammed Azharuddin's decade-long captaincy, though India could manage to win just one Test abroad (against Sri Lanka in 1993), they remained unbeatable at home (India's 13-year-old unbeaten streak at home was broken by South Africa in 2000 when Sachin Tendulkar was the captain).
Then under Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, India made an impact abroad (drew with England and Australia on their soil and won away series against Pakistan, West Indies and England).
But history looks to have taken a backward step in the recent years or rather the closing days of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy. Dhoni or MSD, who has given India more than one World Cup and several other big trophies, has seen losses in consecutive series, both at home and abroad.
Starting from the tri-series in Australia last year in which India failed to win a single match, Dhoni's team has lost against Bangladesh in Bangladesh, a home one-day series against South Africa and now a bilateral series in Australia.
The World Cup was a high point in between in which India were unbeaten till the semi-finals when they lost to Australia, the eventual champions.
Have the Indians now being reduced to paper tigers in one-day cricket, even at home?
Great batting, fielding but still no win
The story looks quite contradictory. Going by the batting or fielding standards, India are no more a shaky side today that meekly capitulate against strong teams.
In the three consecutive losses in one-day internationals against Australia, India scored 300-plus scores in first 2 ODIs and 295 in the 3rd with at least one century in all matches.
This is in sharp contradiction to how the Indian teams had fared in the past against formidable Australian attacks.
The fielding by some of the young athletes in the team was nothing less than excellent, again a sea change from what it was in the past. But the end result remained disappointing.
The main reason behind such disappointing outcome for Dhoni's men both home and abroad is the team's zero bowling credentials.
And none other than the annual carnival called the Indian Premier League (IPL) is responsible for this massive downfall. These slam-bang tournaments only create complexes for the players - a superiority for the batsmen and inferiority for the bowlers.
Today's bowlers just want to save the runs and their backs
After watching India's bowlers in Australia, one feels the department now employs amateurs. There is no focus and discipline, something which was seen even a few years ago when the Srinaths and Kumbles spearheaded the attack.
The motto is just to check the scoring and a temperament of holding on to three to four overs.
If a bowler compromises on the target of getting a wicket and aims to somehow avoid getting hit to save the day for himself, it means the fate of his team is sealed even before the game has started. That is what precisely happening with Indian cricket now.
Forget Tests, our bowlers can't even last 10 overs now
Forget Test temperament of fighting on for five days, even surviving 50 overs look distant for the Indian bowlers and that makes 300-plus scores look peanuts when the opponents come out to bat.
The way we beat SA and saved Kohli
India's way of pocketing the recent Test series against South Africa spoke clearly the lack of confidence the team's bowlers have. Hence, the pitches were engineered to back the bowlers and also Virat Kohli, who India cannot afford to undergo heavy defeats as the national captaincy's future rests with him.
1009 not out! It hints at a grim future
But if the bowling woes are not instantly addressed, then there will be little difference in Kohli's fate, too, after he takes over as the limited-overs captain. Recently, we were celebrating an incredible 1009 not out by a Mumbai school boy Pranav Dhanawade but if one really does a soul-searching, those records point at a terrible future for the game in the country.
Without bowlers, the game means nothing.