India’s ignominious defeat in the fourth ODI against New Zealand at Hamilton raises a few pertinent questions. One may be tempted to shrug off the loss coming as it does after the visitors had taken an unassailable lead in the series. But it is still a valid point to be ruthless at all times. That is one quality the unbeatable West Indies under Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards displayed in unmistakable terms. They kept up the pressure at all times. Once they had the opposition down they trampled all over them and that is how they made a clean sweep of several Test and ODI contests.

Secondly the defeat also underlines the truth that the team is over dependent on the top order. If the top three fail the rest of the side could just collapse like a construction made of adulterated cement. This was one opportunity for the middle and late order batting to show that they were made of sterner stuff and could rise to the occasion in a crisis but they failed abysmally.

Overall the result came as rude wake up call for the Indians and underscored the fact that in international sport there is no room for complacency. One has to play their best side and play at their best at all times to be truly world class. To that extent despite their No 2 ranking the Indians do not appear to be a side to be installed as one of the favourites for the World Cup.

Moreover a defeat is one thing, a rout quite another. To go down without a fight by eight wickets with a record 212 balls to spare after being bowled out for 92 and then allowing opponents who have been at the receiving end so far to canter to victory is all a bit hard to swallow. There can be no excuse for plumbing the depths to this extent and even a vastly improved performance by the Indians in the final ODI on Sunday will not erase memories of the all-round disaster at Hamilton.

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