Closing out games a matter of intent, not skill
If you don’t play to win, can you triumph? The Indian team, in the third Test against West Indies, accepted a tame draw instead of grasping a victory within reach.
Much has been said and written about the Indian batting line-up’s unwillingness to take up the challenge of scoring 180 runs in 47 overs.
Not much has been made of the Indian bowling’s lack of incisiveness and penetration, when they should have gone for the kill. The last five West Indian wickets added 121 runs between them.
The Indian and international press have unflinchingly condemned the number one team’s tactics.
Duncan Fletcher pointed out that this team did better than expected, given this was not the best side. Half the top players had opted out of the series.
The Indian coach is right to an extent. However, these are glib excuses.
Fletcher was brought in for a reason: to transform the team, given the expected exit of senior pros, by blooding young talent.
What kind of message does this send out to the youngsters in the Indian side? That, it is okay to forego a chance for victory merely to make sure the team does not falter?
Surely, this is not in character of the fearless new ‘Young India’ that the press tom-toms?
The Men in Blue are no Aussies when it comes to being ruthless, relentless or merciless. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men are world champions but they have not quite captivated or thrilled in Test series abroad.
The last series against South Africa ended 1-1.
The youngsters have not quite seized their chances.
Suresh Raina surprised, Abhinav Mukund made the selectors’ job easier by doing just enough to retain his place, Virat Kohli disappointed.
The pace bowlers, as is their wont, performed way better on quick, bouncy wickets, away from home.
Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman proved the five-day game is their metier.
Ishant Sharma exhibits signs of fulfilling his early promise. Praveen Kumar is game. Harbhajan Singh’s 400 wicket tally lifted his spirits and galvanised him to do better in the final Test.
Questions and Answers
As for Test cricket itself, can it survive, if games are attrition and insipidity personified?
Is there any way of forcing teams batting last to go for it, against all odds? Surely paying spectators deserve better.
Should mandatory overs be just that: mandatory?
Do lacklustre results reflect players’ lack of interest in the longer version of the game?
Is five-day cricket overrated?
Is West Indian cricket on the upswing?
Could Chris Gayle have lifted West Indian fortunes?
Is Darren Bravo the next Brian Lara? The answer is: not yet. In fact, he’s not even close to being the next Marlon Samuels.
Is Shivnarine Chanderpaul done? Not by a long margin.
Is Darren Sammy the best man for the skipper’s job? The West Indian Cricket Board (WICB) have no intention of letting us know.
Kirk Edwards has arrived, Devendra Bishoo has class, and Fidel Edwards is back to his fiery best.
What was the question again?