What Dravid did at Nagpur — rightly and wisely at that!
India managed to save the Test match at Nagpur, thanks to a couple of splendid innings from Dravid and Jaffer. In case you are wondering why I am saying this, it is due to this post by Apple, who had the temerity to comment that “May be as a captain he would not want to squander is his record by registering one loss as against a draw”.
Oh! really! I never knew that or thought so! And, here is why. Clearly, as articulated by Prem Panicker of Rediff, had Dravid fooled himself and the team, and tried to pull of an improbable (nay, impossible) victory on that dusty, wearing fifth day pitch, Indians would have clearly lost the match, and probably with that, the series! Is that what you want as an Indian Cricket Fan?
A couple of interesting things related to this discussion, and both attributed to Prem. First, as part of his analysis of the post lunch session of the fifth day’s play, Prem writes about how both the teams played boring cricket (sorry Apple, this time you were darting the arrows blind-folded, and so was the venerable Tim de Lisle in Cricinfo). Excerpts:
“The scoring rate might seem, on the surface, to be a touch slow but one interesting aspect of this game has been how that rate has been even, for both sides, through the game with the possible exception of late yesterday evening, when Petersen pushed his shirt sleeves up, clenched his muscles and had a go.
“An example: At the 40 over mark, England in the first innings was 110/2, in the second innings 116/2; India in the first innings at that point was 119/2, in the second innings, looking to shut England out on a last day track, 97/1. After 50 overs, it was 133/3 and 140/1 England; India 140/1 and 121/1. A commentary, that, on a pitch that has forced batsmen, for once, to earn their keep through all five days of this game.”
Second, in his analysis of the last session’s play of the fifth day of the Nagpur Test, Prem has this to offer. Again, excerpts:
“”This morning, just before play began, I had a few mails all from die-hard fans all asking essentially one question can India save this Test?
“Yes, with some ease, was my response to which, one of them mailed back immediately with ‘You see India always through rose-tinted glasses, I’m sure once the ball gets a bit older, the quicks with their reverse swing and Panesar with that huge turn will do what Pakistan did to us in Karachi. India just doesn’t have the knack of batting last!’
“And at the tea break the sequel a mail, from the same friend, asking ‘why the hell didn’t India go for the bowling? It would have made a statement.’
Ummm, sure lose a few wickets, scramble to save the match, and the statement, from the gallery, would have been ‘They got lucky, but the team sucks.'”
Interesting, isn’t it? Clearly, had Dravid fooled himself and the team, and tried to pull of an improbable (nay, impossible) victory on that dusty, wearing fifth day pitch, Indians would have clearly lost the match, and probably with that, the series!
And with that I rest my case. Thanks for reading thus far.
Update: Just when I thought I had rested my case, I came across the latest post from Prem, where he ponders about how the Nagpur Test is in many ways similar to third test (played at SCG) of the 1994/95 Ashes series. Another gem of an article from Prem, and as always, here is the excerpt (mind you, this time the excerpt is actually from the great Richie Benauds’ book The Appeal of Cricket):
I have seen many games where the fourth innings has gone well for a time, very few where the impetus is maintained right through the innings for victory. It all comes down to fear. Not physical fear, but fear of losing and fear of the fourth innings syndrome in a cricket match. It’s all right being 448 behind when you start your own first innings; you have a second chance, but to be that many in arrears when you are playing your second innings is another matter. You have no second chance. It is this psychological block that poses problems as soon as a wicket falls. Two quick wickets and suddenly there is a mist across yourr brain as batting captain and you are becoming very nervous…
Definitely, the current Indian team is not (yet) as great as Taylor’s Ashes winning Australian Team. Amen!