Perth, Jan 12: Former captain Sourav Ganguly feels that six consecutive Test defeats abroad in the last one year has been a "huge step backward" for the Indian cricket team.
"Indian cricket has taken a lot of pride in their performance overseas in the past decade but I fear they have taken a huge step backward in the past year," Ganguly wrote in his column in Sydney Morning Herald.
"India are always a strong team at home - almost unbeatable - and the big challenge in the 2000s was to change the performance overseas.
"India did manage to do that with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh over a long period of time but the question now is, at the back end of the careers of these huge names, is India again soft when touring?" he wrote.
"There is still time before coming to a conclusion but time is running away fast for this team, and they quickly need to find a way to get the monkey off their back."
In England last summer, India lost all the four Test matches and down 0-2 in the ongoing tour of Australia, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are facing the ignominy of another series whitewash.
"India have a lot to ponder after the Test losses in Melbourne and Sydney - most pertinently whether the team has once again gone soft when playing overseas," Ganguly wrote.
"It's not the losses but the way they have been outplayed that will be a big source of concern for M S Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher. Sydney was India's sixth consecutive defeat in as many matches overseas and in most cases they have been one-sided Tests, with five out of six finishing in four days," he felt.
The cricketer-turned-commentator was aghast to see India's meek surrender in England and now in Australia, and feels that it is the famed batting line up which was disappointing the team on overseas tours.
"Having watched the team closely in all the Tests away from home, the biggest reason for the losses is the inability of the bowling and batting units to fire at the same time and take hold of the game at crucial times," Ganguly wrote.
"The main reason for not holding on to those moments has been the batting. The Indian batting has been rated highly for the past decade, but somewhere in the recent Test matches they have found themselves in difficult positions," he insisted.
"India usually scored more than 450 runs almost every innings - especially when they were at their best in the past 10 years - but that has not been the recent form. If a team doesn't get past that total in any innings of a Test, especially the first, then they will find themselves in trouble," he added.
He also felt that Australia have utilised their home advantage to perfection in the ongoing four-match series and the new ball continues to remain India's perennial problem on foreign tours.
"One problem for India is that their hosts have become smarter at preparing pitches to suit their bowlers more than the Indians. Just as they expect turning pitches in India, there is a conscious effort from opponents to leave grass on wickets," Ganguly wrote.
"They know it's an ageing batting line-up and that new players are finding their feet in the international arena and hence will find it hard in the conditions."
"India's problem also has been the new ball, the first or the second, every time they have batted abroad. None of the openers have gone on to make hundreds or put in a fair partnership to take the shine of the new ball and allow the middle order to breathe easier," he felt.
"At the time of the second new ball, teams have run through India's middle and lower orders easily. This is where the Indians are being soft," Ganguly added.