After the conclusion of the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, India's captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, suddenly and surprisingly announced his retirement from Test cricket. This resignation in the middle of a series, with no injury, is highly unusual.  While Dhoni led India to the number one ranking in Tests in 2009, he and the team have had a disastrous 2014. Two years ago, Dhoni had hinted at retiring from Test cricket to keep fit for the 2015 World Cup. Virat Kohli is set to take over for the fourth and final Test match in Sydney.

Could the performance of the Indian Test team in 2014 provide an explanation for Dhoni's decision? It's clear that 2014 will be the year easily forgotten by the Indian fan. Both India's batting and bowling have collapsed.

Bowling collapses in 2014

In third Test that ended in a draw on Tuesday, Australia won the toss and batted first. India soon got the upper hand, as they have done so many times in 2014. The scoreboard read 216/5 at the halfway mark of the innings. But soon depressing history was to repeat itself. India let the Australian tail score much more than the top order. At the end of Day 1, the scorecard read 259/5. By tea time on Day 2, the Australians had raced ahead to 530 all out.

The scorecard for Australia’s second innings didn’t read very differently. For the eighth wicket, Ryan Harris and Shaun Marsh had a partnership that lasted 26.3 overs. This may have meant that a match that could have been won was drawn (though it was almost lost).

With only one Test match left in Sydney, and having lost the first two, Tuesday’s draw at the MCG means India has lost the Border-Gavaskar Test series against Australia. This is the first draw at the MCG in 17 years.

It isn’t just the Australians whose tail has performed admirably with the bat against India. New Zealand and England’s tail have also performed beyond expectations against India in 2014. In a match against New Zealand in Wellington in January, the Indians bowlers did well to restrict New Zealand to 94/5. The bowlers seemed to switch off after that. Bradley-John Watling and Brendon McCullum tore the bowlers apart with a partnership of 352 runs for the sixth wicket and New Zealand ended up with 680/8 declared. The match was drawn.

This chart shows the performance of the Indian bowling attack in seven Test matches in 2014. In seven Test innings, the average score, at the fall of the fifth wicket, was 233. What happened towards the end of the opposition innings? The average score more than doubled to 507, or an average 118 %. Looked at another way, India gave away an average 274 runs for the five of the last wickets – the average tailender stole 55 runs from the Indian attack.

Out of the seven matches in which India have let their opposition off the hook after dominating for the first five wickets, India have lost five.

According to ESPNcricinfo, the average stand against India in all Tests in 2014 was an average of 50 runs for tailenders (wickets six-ten). For the established front-line batsmen (wickets one-five) the average is eight runs lower, at 42.

Batting Collapses in 2014

It seems that both the batsmen and the bowlers are conspiring to make India lose more matches than they should.

Batting collapse is the other reason for India’s failures. Just sample the scores from the ongoing series against Australia. India lost over five wickets for less than 100 runs five times in six innings. In the first Test at Adelaide, India lost eight wickets for only 73 runs and went on to lose the Test. In the first five innings of the India-Australia series, India’s last five batsmen have lasted beyond 20 overs in only one innings.

India also had a series of batting collapses in the Test series in England earlier this year. The table documents batting collapses for 11 Test innings in 2014. For an average of seven wickets during a batting collapse (6.8 to be precise), India added only 67 runs, or just 10 runs per wicket.

Is this India's worst year in recent Test history? The victory figures of other Asian countries tell the tale.

Is this why Dhoni decided to call it quits?