Sydney:Australia's cricket glory days are over and the team must face up to a tougher future, leading commentators said on Saturday after India's euphoric one-day series win over the world champions.
India's 2-0 tri-series finals win over Ricky Ponting's aging team has triggered an inquest into Australia's performance and fears the axis of global cricket supremacy had finally shifted.
Australia are now only fractionally in front of South Africa on the International Cricket Council rankings as the world's leading one-day nation after losing the best-of-three finals.
And with the retirement of wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist, after last year's departure of bowling greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, there is a sense the era of Australian domination is over.
One commentator noted that Australia, with an average age of 33, were confronted and affronted by a younger version of themselves in Mahendra Singh Dhoni's confident Indian team.
"If Ricky Ponting had ever wondered what tomorrow would look like, now he knows. It is staring Australian cricket, and its leader, in the face. The era of domination that it seemed might never end is over. The future has arrived," The Age's Tim Lane said.
"Australia will continue to have the measure of most. The days are gone, though, of endless, predictable crushing of mismatched opponents," he added.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Roebuck said India's economic boom has released a new sort of cricketer -- tough, independent, materialistic and confident.
"Suddenly, India seemed to represent the future, Australia the past. Australia were confronted and affronted by a younger version of themselves.
"Australia have always had a strong and democratic cricketing culture. India used to depend on players steeped in the ethics and traditions of the game. Not any more."
Much has been made in the local media about the fall-out from the Australian team's racism charge against controversial Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh for abusing Andrew Symonds during the second Sydney Test in January.
Harbhajan was banned for three matches but the suspension was later overturned following an appeal hearing.