Perth, Jan 16: If Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men continue their losing streak in the fourth Test against Australia at Adelaide, it would prove to be the worst phase in the annals of Indian cricket.
Since Dhoni led his team to England last summer, India have lost seven out of seven Tests in two series abroad.
It's already the second worst phase in the history of Indian cricket. And it would prove to be the worst if they lose in the fourth and final Test against Australia, beginning January 24.
Twice in their history of 79 years and 461 Tests, India have lost seven Tests in succession in two series - once in 1967 when Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi's men lost in England and Australia by 3-0 and 4-0 margins. Only eight years before, India had lost eight Tests in two series of five matches each against the West Indies and Australia in 1958-59.
Tiger Pataudi's men in 1967 would though claim to have done better than then the modern-day Indian team.
Even though they drew blank in both England and Australia, they lost only two matches by an innings margin.
Dhoni's men have already suffered four innings defeat in the last five Tests. Trailing by 386 runs in the Headingley Test, India replied with 510 in the second innings. Unlike Dhoni, Pataudi responded to the occasion with a sterling knock of 148.
There is another reason why the men of '67 could look down on Dhoni's team. While only Rahul Dravid has been a centurion in the past two series abroad, Pataudi and M L Jaisimha (101 at Brisbane) ensured they had more than one century-maker in their ranks.
Presently, Dhoni's men are a shade better than the team of '59, but only by a wafer-thin margin.
It could all change in Adelaide. During the season of 1958-59, India lost 3-0 to West Indies at home and 5-0 away to England. It would make it eight losses out of 10 Tests in that dreadful spell of nine months.
But those men in whites could still salvage two draws. Dhoni and his team have drawn blank in England and Australia so far.
Another perspective could truly reflect how dismal Dhoni's men have been. When India lost eight Tests from two series in 1958-59, it had no less than four captains in the space of four Tests.
When West Indies arrived in the winter of 1958, India began with Polly Umrigar and then handed over the leadership to Ghulam Ahmed for two Tests. For the final two Tests, Vinoo Mankad and Hemu Adhikari led the team into the middle.
Dhoni, on the contrary, is at the helm presently and completely secure as leader.
In those two wretched series of 50s and 60s, the teams were a cut above what England and Australia have been able to throw at the Indians in the last seven months.
The likes of Wes Hall, Fred Trueman and Brian Statham in 1958-59 and John Snow and Graham McKenzie in 1967-68 were the legends of the game.
James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan for England and James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus for Australia, with all due respects, still have some way to go.
Thus the final Test at Adelaide could be more important in more ways than one.