New Delhi: The Indian media on Friday lashed out at the country's famed batting line-up for letting the team down in the opening Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Chasing a 292-run target on Thursday, India failed to cope with Australia's pace attack as they were shot out for 169 despite the batting experience of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag.
"Melbourne Meltdown" said a Times of India headline after the tourists' 122-run defeat. "Those expecting India's much-vaunted batting line-up to give Australia a run for their money were disappointed when Dhoni and Co surrendered without even putting up a semblance of a fight," the paper wrote.
Australian fast bowlers James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle all struck it rich on a seamer-friendly track, grabbing 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to lead their side to a crushing victory.
"'Foreign fever' returned to grip the Indian team as Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle tormented them - much like the English bowlers had done in England - with a heady cocktail of pace, bounce and movement served with relentless consistency," said the paper.
It was India's fifth successive Test defeat away from home after a 4-0 loss in England.
"Mauled in Melbourne" the Hindustan Times said on its front page and "Bat-erred India fall apart" on its sports page.
"The chase was always going to be an uphill task, considering the recent barren run which has seen the famed batting line-up not cross the 300-run mark in the last 10 away innings," said the paper.
The Hindu newspaper also blamed the batsmen for defeat, saying the "famed batting line-up fails to deliver".
Ravi Shastri, former India all-rounder and now a noted TV commentator, said the Indian batsmen needed to show grit to bounce back in the four-Test series.
"India need runs from all their main batsmen. Now that bowlers look the part, batters have no business to let them down," he wrote in the Times of India.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this completely turns out to be a bowlers' series. If so, then every run saved or made would count. India have the skills. All they need is resolve," he wrote.
Former India paceman Javagal Srinath said the tourists could fight back.
"Saddled with the reputation of being poor starters overseas, India did precious little to rectify the anomaly in the Melbourne Test," he wrote in the Hindustan Times.
"Barring England, where nothing went right for them, India have bounced back after first-Test losses. There is no reason, given the experience and quality of the India batting, why they can't do so again in Sydney."
The second Test starts in Sydney on January 3.