ADELAIDE, Australia - The pealing of the bells at the cathedral adjacent to the Adelaide Oval sounded more like a death knell to India's players on Saturday as the tourists slumped to 4-0 series defeat by Australia and one of the lowest ebbs in its cricket history.
India's 298-run defeat mercifully ended a series that began as a highly anticipated clash between two sides with a burgeoning rivalry but instead finished with an ignominious defeat for a team that played some of its worst cricket in many tours to Australia.
India lost two tests by an innings margin, and two by over 100 runs. It would likely have been an innings drubbing here too had Australia skipper Michael Clarke enforced the follow-on.
The sweep by Australia mirrored the 4-0 series win by England over India last year, making it eight straight test defeats for India away from home.
The manner of those series defeats would put immense public pressure on selectors to make drastic changes, but acting captain Virender Sehwag has urged them to show patience.
"They should be upset with our performances and I totally agree with them," Sehwag said. "But this is the time the fans should back the team, back the players.
"When we won the World Cup, everybody was happy and everybody was cheering ... now is the time we need the support from everybody. They should back their own team."
Sehwag himself will be one of the veteran batsmen whose test future will come under scrutiny. Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman are the other experienced players who had uninspiring tours and will be vulnerable if major changes are made.
Sachin Tendulkar, at 38, is coming to the end of his career and was unable to reach that elusive 100th international century. However his semi-majestic position in Indian cricket, plus that quest for the 100th ton, should protect him from any batting shakeup.
The Big Four of Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag and Laxman contributed only 834 runs across four tests.
Indeed it was young middle-order batsman Virat Kohli who scored the only hundred for the tourists in the series — a brilliant 116 in the first innings here.
"Whenever we were building partnership we were not able to convert them to big ones," said Sehwag, who stood in as captain for the final test because Mahendra Singh Dhoni was suspended because of slow over rates.
"It's not the high expectation taking its toll ...unfortunately we haven't played well as a batting unit. We were looking forward to this series. We have let down our team."
Sehwag agrees a team review is in order after this defeat but said more onus should be on individual players to lift themselves.
Sehwag himself hasn't scored a test century since August 2010 — that's 19 innings since his 109 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
"I haven't been scoring hundreds overseas in the last few tours. I need to work on my game to score hundreds when I go overseas. It's something for me to work on ... nothing to do with the team.
"We're all experienced players and we're all working hard on our batting skills, and I am confident we'll do well in the coming series."
India's next test series is at home against an in-form New Zealand in September, and will not undertake an overseas test series until it to tours New Zealand in March 2014.