Youngsters failed to come to grips with the conditions
India were humiliated by New Zealand on Tuesday, going down by 200 runs, in the opening match of the tri-series in Sri Lanka.
Playing days after a splendid victory over Sri Lanka in the third Test, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team was supposed to carry on the momentum into the triangular series.
But the youngsters failed to come to grips with the conditions that favoured the bowlers to an extent and were outclassed in all departments by the Kiwis.
After Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra had given the team a good start with the ball by claiming three early wickets, the young Indian spinners -- Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja -- were never really able to sustain the pressure in the middle overs.
Ojha took one for 58 in ten overs, while Jadeja was hit for 63 in nine overs, and Kumar and Nehra shared seven wickets between them.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Indian batsmen succumbed meekly
The Indian fielders also played a part in New Zealand's revival by spilling a couple of easy catches, while wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a nightmare game behind the stumps. Back in ODI mode after their Asia Cup triumph in June, they certainly looked rusty on the field, allowing the Kiwis to post 288 on a pitch offering quite a bit of assistance to the seamers.
Their batsmen also did not fare any better. In fact, they succumbed meekly.
The New Zealand attack, missing two of their best bowlers in Shane Bond and captain Daniel Vettori, was able to bundle out the Indians for a meagre 88, the whole innings lasting just 29.3 overs.
Once opener Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik were out, only Ravindra Jadeja managed to reach 20, the eight other batsmen unable to even get to double digits.
Image: Poor fielding let the Kiws off the hook
Indian batsmen looked clueless against the Kiwis
The pitch held no demons, though it helped the seamers somewhat, and with a bit of application and proper shot- selection India could have performed better. All the top batsmen were guilty of throwing their wickets away with some reckless shots and the Kiwi fielding was absolutely world class.
Captain Dhoni was quick to put the blame on his batsmen after one of the team's worst displays in recent time.
"We didn't bat well at all. When we got into batting, they got a kind of bounce that put us in awkward situation," he said.
While New Zealand's plan after losing three wickets was to build the innings, the Indian batsmen looked clueless throughout.
"We wanted not to lose too many wickets and get a partnership going and thought it would be great to reach 250-260 but we reached 288. So we are very happy," Kiwi captain Ross Taylor.
Image: Daryl Tuffey celebrates after dismissing Rohit Sharma
Can India come back stronger against the Lankans?
With a break of six days before their second match against hosts Sri Lanka on Monday and they would do well to rectify their mistakes.
They bounced back in style after losing the first Test to Sri Lanka and there is no reason why they cannot repeat that feat in this tournament too.
So what was lacking in India's showing against New Zealand? Why is the team not consistent? Can they come back stronger against the Lankans, who they take on Monday? What must Dhoni do to get it right?
Image: Daryl Tuffey celebrates running out India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni