KOLKATA: It's not always that a member of the losing team runs away with the Man-of-the-Match award. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's heroic 113 made for a closer contest in Chennai, but it didn't win India the opening ODI against Pakistan.
In a cricket-crazy country where the individual is often saluted more than the game, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that cricket still is a team game where the sum of the whole matters more.
It's time Team India clicked as a whole, and the onus certainly will be on the star-studded batting line-up when the second ODI of the three-match series unfolds at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
The 'bad toss to lose' with the early moisture in the wicket has been the reason proffered by the Indian camp for the loss of those five wickets (with just 29 on the board) in the first ODI, and it certainly presents a strong case for the bungling batsmen, but the team management would do well to go deeper, into the manner of the dismissals.
Over the past month or so, since the Test series against England, India's much-vaunted batsmen have shown a pathetic lack of application to conditions and circumstances.
It would be more accurate to add a pinch of that to the wet-wicket theory. At least they have a fresh example in Dhoni's knock to go about it, that is if they need examples after all these years in top-flight cricket.
There is threat of rain on Thursday, but moisture or no moisture, the main battle for India will again be against the visitors' quality seam attack, which has acquired an added edge with the advent of its two left-arm exponents.
The 14-ODI-old Junaid Khan picked up four of those early five wickets in Chennai, while his new-ball partner, the seven-feet-one-inch Mohammad Irfan presents a whole new challenge as he delivers from that disconcerting height. Both Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag will have to curb their natural aggression and look for opportunities.
The new ICC rules, which dictates that five fielders should be always stationed within the 30-yard circle in addition to the wicketkeeper, can prove profitable for those with some patience, as the opportunity to go through or over the in-field is there right till the end. It's something that Pakistan opener Nasir Jamshed is making the most of.
Perhaps that is why Sehwag spent time practising 'leaves' to lifting deliveries after he had finished with his stroke-filled exhibition at the main nets on Wednesday.
A local lad did send down some left-arm stuff to some of the Indian batsmen, but the Indians probably missed a trick by not getting hold of some quality left-arm seamers.
Dhoni informed that Virat Kohli, who injured his knee while bowling in Chennai, is "available for selection" even as he iterated: "We don't announce our playing XI day before the match."