The first ODI on the tour of New Zealand highlighted the obvious - that it's India's bowling which will ultimately decide the team's fate - by controlling runs in the ODIs and by taking 20 wickets in the Tests; on Sunday, it failed to achieve the first objective. And for the nth time, Ishant Sharma contributed the most to the failure.
India hemorrhaged as many as 92 runs in the last 10 overs, though per skipper MS Dhoni's assessment it was an improved death-bowling show. Perhaps he was pointing to the last five overs of the New Zealand innings, but that's little consolation if a team goes for more than nine runs an over in the last 60 balls.
Of the six bowlers used by Dhoni, Ishant frustratingly proved to be the most expensive, giving away 72 runs for just one wicket in nine overs. And according to former Kiwi skipper Martin Crowe, Ishant is a "bridge too far" now and has taken enough beatings to be persevered with.
Ishant gave away eight runs an over in the Napier ODI and former NZ skipper Martin Crowe feels he is 'a bridge too far' for India.
"From a mental point of view you got to consider that a player can take only so many beatings, particularly with the one-day rules, the way they are: Powerplays, field restrictions," Crowe told ESPNCricinfo, explaining the challenges bowlers face these days in limited-overs cricket.
"Someone like Ishant has taken so many beatings that he must be fearing the role that he has to play. And that can sometimes get to the point that it overwhelms the experience obviously he has had over the last five years playing for India, and it becomes too hard," Crowe said.
The New Zealander, who took his country to the 1992 World Cup semi-finals, said India are in need of some fearless cricketers.
"What India need to do, Duncan Fletcher perhaps, is look around, find fearless youth, who can come and take on, particularly with the World Cup coming up in this part of the world - Australia and New Zealand - in 12 months' time. They've got to find some players without fear. I feel, sadly, that Ishant Sharma is a bridge too far in terms of the bad experiences he has had in recent times."