Test 3, Day 3

“Sri Lanka clearly hasn’t learned the art of putting the boot in when it can,” I said at the start of my blog post on the first day’s play in this Test match – right quote, wrong team.

If India wins this Test – and despite the quality of its play on day three, it still can – it will thanks to the ICC’s incomprehensible number-crunching find itself elevated to the number one slot on the Test table.

By its play today, however, it indicated that it has a long way to go before it can translate that statistical anomaly into undisputed – even by the likes of Simon Wilde — reality.

Australia’s unchallenged hegemony through the nineties and early ‘noughties’ is widely attributed to a rare concatenation of outstanding talents with bat and ball, an unprecedented array of individual match-winners who collectively became even greater than the sum of their parts.

What is not as often discussed is that the real driver was the ruthlessness developed during the latter part of Mark Taylor’s captaincy, and honed to a fine art during the Steve Waugh years.

During its decade-long dominance of international cricket, Australia reveled in putting opponents down on the mat as soon as it possibly could, and then putting the boot in with a ruthlessness that sent a message to future opponents that they too could expect no mercy.

As a result, teams took the field against Australia having already lost the mental battle; their sights were fixed not on winning, or even holding Australia at bay, but in not being totally disgraced. “If we can draw the first Test, we have a chance,” Rahul Dravid once told me the day before the team was setting out for a tour Down Under; then BCCI board secretary JY Lele more pragmatically said the team would lose 3-0.

Avoiding a whitewash was the substance of not just our ambition, but of the rest of the cricketing world, whenever they padded up to take on Australia.

And it was not just that Australia was ruthless – it was also relentless. It never let up, no matter the quality of the opposition nor even the status of the series. Thus, it would play at the same levels of intensity against an England and a Bangladesh; it would play tooth and claw cricket in the first game of a series and in a dead rubber after the series had been sealed 4-0.

It is this lesson India is a long way from learning – champion sides [and individuals] don’t just win, they dominate; they intimidate oppositions, they put the fear of god into them.

India ended day two on 443/1, motoring along at a rate close to six rpo and occasionally hitting the high sevens – unprecedented that early in a Test match innings. In the process, it reduced Lanka’s most potent weapons, the spinners Muralitharan and Herath, to abject submission.

In the first two sessions of day three, batsmen of the accomplishments and experience of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh managed 186 runs in 56 overs for the loss of six wickets. That is to say, those four storied players managed a combined 212 runs in 383 deliveries faced; this in contrast with the 254 deliveries Virender Sehwag faced to score 293 runs.

Here’s another illustration: India’s champion batsmen, for the most part, scored at or under 3 runs per over on day three, against an attack that had already suffered the death of the thousand cuts. Had India scored at that pace on day two, it would have ended at or around 237, some 150 runs behind the Lankan score, and we would have been talking this morning of the need to play cautiously, focus on going past the Lankan first innings score, and then consolidate and build a big lead. ‘India fight back,’ the headlines of this morning’s papers would have read.

The contrasting attitudes are best exemplified in this: “Murali is a big challenge to face,” Sehwag said at the end of day two. “If you have to play against a spinner like him, you have to attack him. Otherwise, he will come and dominate you. So instead of allowing him to dominate, I dominated right from the first ball and pushed him onto the back foot.”

Sehwag faced 77 deliveries from the off spinner, and scored 83 runs including 11 fours and two sixes. By the end of the day, Murali was a shadow of his world record-breaking self, reduced to bowling around the wicket, from wide of the crease, into the spot a foot outside leg stump.

Against that, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Yuvraj faced 112 deliveries of the same bowler, managed 65 runs, and saw him end the innings with 4 face-saving wickets while Herath, who had similarly been reduced to the ranks of the impotent, came back with two today, taking his tally to three.

None of this will likely make much difference to the outcome of this particular match – but what the Indian team needs to learn is that momentum needs to be seized and built on when it presents itself; it cannot be pickled and put away for a rainy day. Get into the habit of riding the adrenalin, and it serves the collective cause in the face of sterner examinations; bat at half throttle simply because there is no apparently urgency, and you find it that much more difficult to move up the gears against the better sides.

Having reduced the Lankans to complete submission on day two, today was the opportunity to demonstrate the ruthlessness of champions, the chance to administer the coup de grace and put the opposition so far behind the mental eight ball that the Indian bowlers could pretty much have things their own way against a totally demoralized opposition.

Related, ruthlessness – the so-called “killer instinct” – cannot be switched on and off at will but needs to be cultivated as a constant; an attitude that permeates the team as it steps across the white line. Absent that quality, this team with its “best batting lineup in the world” will continue to do well against the likes of Lanka, Bangladesh et al, but will struggle when it goes up against the mentally stronger big boys at the top of the table.

As far as the match goes, thanks largely to MS Dhoni’s late order power-hitting on the back of the two double century stands powered by Sehwag, Vijay and Dravid yesterday, India is in full control.

Lanka faces the task of batting out 180 overs knowing that even if they succeed, on a tougher wicket than Kanpur, the best they can hope for is a 0-1 result – not the kind of mindset conducive to extended concentration and focus. To trot out a tired cliché, it will be a “test of character” for the Lankans and, for the home side, a measure of their desire to attack relentlessly in the quest for the best possible result. [Oh, and another chance for Pragyan Ojha to give it a go and put himself permanently in the frame].

PostScript: There are three television screens within eyeshot of where I sit, in the Rediff office – and yet, yesterday, I struggled to follow the Indian innings because of the crowds in front of each of those screens. It was not just my editorial colleagues; our fellows from across the ‘border’, from the marketing, sales, tech and allied departments all gave up on work for the day, and only went back to their seats once the umpires had downed stumps.

Today, only one of the three screens was turned to the game, and even that had no ‘attendance’ – the first ‘crowds’ began trickling in around 4 pm, when Dhoni, with only Ojha left for company, began opening his shoulders.

Just saying.

On another note: Sambit Bal salutes Virender Sehwag for what he is: the most destructive act in cricket. Period.

Oh, and by way of weekend homework: Check out the blogs in all categories. Support the good ones. A blogging universe in its infancy can use all the backing you give it.

39 thoughts on “Test 3, Day 3

  1. Prem…one mistake you (as well as Simon Wilde) make (now that is some comparison you would love 🙂 is that while pulling down India from it’s impending top pedestal, you tend to compare it with THE Aussie team of recent past.

    This team, if it becomes number 1, is simply the best test team ‘of the current lot’. Why complicate any further?

    And, just for record, I do think they are the best in the world, going by performances in past 2 years. But so is SA.

  2. A little devil’s advocacy here Prem. If India had scored quickly, they would have put in Lanka quicker, without sufficiently tiring them out physically and with enough overs in hand to mount some kind of a challenge. On slow pitches, Dilshan+Parana+Mahela+Sanga+Angelo are not to be disregarded. Yes, there is something definitely in your argument, about favoring mental domination by bludgeoning their bowlers in Sehwag fashion. However, making them run around all day, as the Indians did, in the hot, muggy Brabourne cauldron, also has its uses. Not saying you are incorrect about the Australia comparisions, but maybe India were playing to a plan all along, of batting out the day, at which they succeeded. If they had scored 900 instead of the 730 they eventually did, I don’t think anything over a 300 run lead on this pitch is even needed. SL are tired, hurting from the Sehwag barrage and Dhoni’s fireworks, and now must bat out 2 full days to save this match against Harbhajan and Ojha on a pitch disintegrating literally with every step they take on it.

    I’m saying Australia do ruthless their way, and we do it our way – slow, grinding and methodical. There’s more than one way to skin that cat.

    • 🙂 Fair point, though scoring quicker does not necessarily mean inserting SL earlier, it can equally — and more likely — mean putting SL in at the same time, only confronting some 450+, not 330-plus. Also, an Aussie player once in casual chat told me the problem they had with Sehwag was not merely that he would decimate their attack, but that as he walked back after finally getting out, they had the nightmarish vision ahead of the likes of Tendulkar and Laxman doing more of the same.

      On a passing note, IMHO if SL really get their minds wrapped around this thing and tell themselves that there is nothing on this track to daunt batsmen who have been weaned on high quality spin. There is spin, yes, turn yes, bounce yes, not discounting any of that, but it is still good to bat on, unlike the more stereotypical raging turner. And if SL get into that mindset, the pressure exerted by a 330 is likely less — or to put it another way, more easily handled — than what would be exerted by 450 and above.

      Also, I personally wouldn’t call this wicket disintegrating. It is taking turn, but that it was doing from day one. What I really like about it is that unlike most Indian pitches, it still has good, even bounce even a session into day four.

  3. Prem,
    I think VVS is going down hill now. I admire him lot for his career and i am not picking him as usually a fall guy but i am watching him in last test matches. Only susstantial knock i think he played was against NZ.
    During this series he looks to buy singles early on and that also is not going easy for him Yesterday he took 15 ball and about 30minutes to get off mark which slowed down everything.
    Again i am not picking him because he is not SRT or RD but he is clearly strugling his timing going, his half centuries mostly came when there was no pressure of scoring etc.
    India needs to blood atleast one youngster very quickly either for VVS or Yuvi or any other.
    Though I will give Yuvi fre more matches.
    Guys like vijay,pujara,rhane needs to be tried before they fade away.

  4. Well, I did not see the game last night. But,

    1. In principle, I agree that India never (never ever in my memory) has shown the ability to be ruthless.
    2. In all the discussion, it is about India being ruthless. But, is it possible (and honestly, I did not see the day’s play), that Sri Lanka also bowled/fielded better and that the pitch was more conducive…. just guessing.

    At the same time (2) does not overrule (1).

  5. Prem – Regarding the 3 TVs and audience you mentioned in the postscript — Are we to then believe that people only will watch test match cricket if there is a lot of scoring happening (Dhoni situation) and/or once-in-a-while-blitzkrieg that defy convention (Sehwag)? Are we to then assume, as an extension, more people will show up for the formats of cricket that produce this level of scoring? But then, we very promptly bitch about Boards that actively support formats that are more viewer friendly, for being money-grubbing stink wads and accuse them for killing test matches. What gives?

    • To say cricket should be played positively is not the same as saying there should be lots of run scoring — that is an extrapolation I did not make, mate.

      Note, one, that I write of a game within context of that game, and here I only pointed out that momentum had been built, and then allowed to dissipate. It is not only fielding sides that sense that — crowds do, too. The point about the TV audience is this: I’ve seen that same Rediff crowd totally transfixed by low-scoring games. From what I’ve seen of them over the years [and I suspect they do represent a larger sample], what holds them is when there is some kind of contest, or some absolutely stirring example of great batting or great bowling. And what sends them back to the desk is when the game is in a state of stasis.

      So, no, we are not to assume by extension all of that stuff 🙂 That is an extension I would never make.

  6. Prem – Strong words on India not being ruthless. I agree with everything you said. Here’s my theory on why the present Indian team will be unable to achieve the level of ruthlessness a la Australia: SRT/VVS/RD are in the last stages of their careers. IMO, they are old not only in age but also in the mind. The fearless and ruthless attacking play you talk about is highly unlikely to come from them. For that to happen the team needs fresh blood, young legs and adventurorus minds i.e. a call for youth to inject the much desired killer instinct into the team. And, given the changed social environment in India today’s youth is more belligernt and has the potential to do so. More so than the outgoing generation. (Allow me to pre-rebut the arguement that if Sehwag can, then why can’t they – Sehwag has always been that way. For him it is natural. The others it’s not.)

    The 2000s is the story of the rise of Indian cricket to the top tier of world cricket. The AK/SG/RD/SRTs of the world helped fuel the rise. But are spent forces to be ruthless. That is the challenge for the next generation of players.

    I see the next two years as the fading Mark Taylor days. The questions will be
    (a) Can MSD shape the team with newcomers to take it to another level?
    (b) To fulfill MSDs vision, can the newcomers bring quality as well as guts with them?

    You have followed Indian cricket from up close, certainly more so than I have. So would be interested in your thoughts on my theory as well as if you have any insights into the 2 questions above.

    • The old-timers have had a major hand in every single major test series win or tournament wins(particularly overseas) in the past 3,4 years. Some pretty laughable overreactions happening in the last couple of days including Sambit Bal on cricinfo.

      • Mayan – Are you saying that I am somehow trashing the old timers? I hope it didn’t come across that way, because that wasn’t my intent at all. The old timers have taken us to the pinnacle through investing their own blood, sweat and tears. And I am a big big fan of their achievements. Without them we wouldn’t be anywhere close to what we have achieved so far, especially this past decade.

        My point was that a younger and more confident generation has to now take the baton and take the team to the next level, which is to strike fear and dominate world cricket. And, I am tying this passing the baton to the transformational change happening in Indian society in general. Today’s younger generation is more sutied to take India as a country to higher heights than the previous generations. Obviously they cannot do so without the foundation already in place. Someone aptly has called them the true post-midnight children.

        • I think there is an essential point that is being missed here. I agree that the younger group of players need to take Indian cricket to newer heights. The way the older hands have got to the point of winning away matches and series, and pretty much any home series, is through many tough losses and “learning to win as a group”. There is no substitute for that. You just can’t assemble a group of younger players (however talented and skilled they might be), and expect them to win on any sort of consistent basis. It – especially Sport – doesn’t work that way. Through the many trials and disappointments of SRT, RD, RD, AK, the current crop of younger players have a template for success. Now, you infuse new talent and allow them to grow, and perform for a long time, as one unit. I was looking at some scorecards of test matches from 80’s and 90’s and Noughties (as that moron Simon Wilde calls this decade), its remarkable how the current indian team core has outlasted many other teams. Continuity is a major factor in consistent success (you all knew that already!). I look at the late 80’s and early 90’s Indian team which was a prime example for Chop-and-Change selection process and I can see why they did not any kind of success that we take for granted from this current lot.

          P.S. Pardon my meandering thoughts.

          • “You just can’t assemble a group of younger players (however talented and skilled they might be), and expect them to win on any sort of consistent basis. It – especially Sport – doesn’t work that way.”

            Spot on. Agree 100%. That is the Pakistan team. 🙂 I am all in agreement with what you just articulated. The current crop can and will definitely continue to deliver wins. This is a winning team, no doubt about that. Again, I go back to the point that to achieve ruthlessness in our wins a fresh set of “quality and gutsy” players is required. IMO, newer & younger players is a necessary condition to achieve that goal BUT NOT a sufficient one (top notch quality has to go with it).

            • I must also add that bringing in newer players doesn’t have to happen right now. The transition has to be managed etc etc etc. To EXPECT this crop to be ruthless a la Australia may not happen. That responsibility will likely fall onto the next generation players as and when they come in.

            • What does “ruthless” really mean? Its not like, India feels pity and takes mercy on opposition. If you mean, by ruthless, drive home any seeming advantage, I am sure, every team likes to and wants to do that. It is silly to think otherwise. These are professionals. (Now, I can see this could lead to opening of a whole another box belonging to Pandora).

              This is my reading of the events that unfolded on Day 3. The plan A would be for VS and RD to get their eye in, and launch in to SL. Plan B.1 – If RD gets out early, SRT comes in and plays 2nd fiddle to VS. Plan B.2 – If VS gets out, SRT tries to attack and RD continues what he did on Day 2. Plan C – Play for time and let’s absolutely make sure we get X amount of lead. (This is how I would lay out the approach).

              I think we saw plan B.2 in effect until RD got out and then, Plan C was in effect. During the course of the day, VVS and others tried to accelerate and got out unfortunately. Also, Sangakkara may have played a role in recalibration of the plans by delaying the taking of the new ball. Let’s give credit where tis due. Delaying the new ball, packed on-side field, coupled with 2 early wickets, I think led to unfolding of events as they did, and its MOST DEFINITELY not the lack of ruthlessness.

    • Saum, I’d look at your two questions this way:

      First, I’d tend to avoid this whole old timers versus new trope. I believe the task for the selectors is, at all times, to pick the best available 11 men to do the job. That’s for starters. Alongside that, the committee always needs to have a longer vision — and that will mean keeping a close eye on emerging talent, and figuring out ways to fit them into that vision.

      That kind of thinking will mean not going knee jerk and saying old timers out, young blood in. Rather, it would mean saying okay, this kid is good, and he is hot right now, how do we use the seniors to mentor him into the team at the precise moment? Equally, what is our transition plan? Are we saying RD and SRT have say two years of high quality cricket, and VVS say the same amount or less? Okay then, what is our exit strategy for when they leave or have to be dropped? Who fills their boots, and how do we right now start preparing those tykes for the role?

      You cannot one day sweep out the old and bring in the new, in one job lot, and expect results to remain the same — check out Australia post the Hayden-Gilchrist-Warne-McGrath retirements. Yeah, they keep winning more than they lose, but that is a function of a far more advanced domestic structure, where the standards are only marginally below international class. We don’t have that luxury, and so we will find it tougher to manage the transition — hence we need to start earlier, and MSD and the selectors will need to work in tandem for that.

      Do the newcomers have what it takes? Um, that is a question we ask in every era, no? We asked that when Sunny, Vishy, Jimmy and Vengsarkar quit; we wondered if Sanjay, then Sourav, Rahul et al could fill those boots. We are asking the same question now. Personally, I think we have in kids like Vijay, Badri, Pujara, Rohit [and I genuinely believe that boy has what it takes to cut the mustard at Test level] et al who will not be the next Sourav/Rahul/Sachin/whoever, but will be the next Vijay/Rohit/Pujara etc.

      Continuity in sport is not a function of replacing like with like, but of integrating the best possible players into the side at the most opportune moments, and constantly reshaping the team depending on changing personnel and the skill sets they bring. [A good example is if you look at Brazilian soccer sides down the years, from the Zico era on]. It is not just that players have changed, it is also that the team’s character and style of play has adapted to the changes — what has remained more or less constant is the results, and the standing in the elite list of soccer teams].

  7. One more thing. This ICC #1 ratings business is pretty much baloney. If Aus were to obliterate WI (in all likelihood they will), it dont matter, they’ll prolly go #1. Plus, i don’t know whether this #1 ranking does really matter to any one.

    #1 goal for the Ind team is to win the series. 1-0 or 2-0, its still a series win. Plus, if you bat the opposition out and take hope of their win away from them, IMO, its easier to actually beat them than, taking a gamble of fast runs and getting out and giving them as much as a whiff.

  8. Prem,

    You replied to my msg earlier in the day – “Momentum is something you seize at the time, not pickle and put away for a rainy day, mate” – in context of RSD protecting VS last evening. I partly agree to this 🙂

    If ever, any momentum got killed, it was after VS got out. Slow batting, late declaration – all of it !!! 🙂

    I’m in total agreement with your views here – if we are transcend from being a good side to a winning one, we need to make tough calls in situations like these, which we failed today. Hope we learn from it and get better !!

    Hope our mistakes (made in luxury of runs) doesn’t cost us big – I still want us to win the game 🙂 🙂

    On the ratings itself, do you really think SL justifies #2 slot ?? They haven’t won a Test in Aus or SA yet – How good can that be in the top 2?? I still think Aus should be above them in the ratings.

    Cheers and have a nice weekend !!

    • Haha!You replied to my msg earlier in the day – “Momentum is something you seize at the time, not pickle and put away for a rainy day, mate” – in context of RSD protecting VS last evening. I partly agree to this -Girish
      It is funny-On the one hand we go gaga over Veeru’s fearless approach,not caring about the context of the match,not losing sleep over an approaching milestone,not worrying about the bowler etc,and here RD is being hauled for the momentum because Veeru didn’t get to his triple! Veeru faced many balls today,especially the first over -it was his for the taking ,he gave it away,I saw the match live on thursday and friday without many ad breaks,and it looke dfifferent ,the ball which he got out to turned a bit and a gentle prod (maybe it’s the bat power-which ended in Murali’s hands)
      If you ask veeru,I am sure he will not say he missed out due to RD,in fact RD provides him creative freedom and balance.

      Batting alongside far more flamboyant individuals, Dravid quickly realised that it was better to have his own niche than be a poor replica. His solidity gave those around him the freedom to express themselves, knowing that all was not lost even if they departed( S Aga in Cric Info)
      On the killer consistency-Yes India needs to do it,that will happen when achive consistent all round performances rather than Individual efforts.
      This match may not be over yet-It could spring some pleasant /Unpleasant surprises.

  9. Prem, I agree with yuo on this one completely. This was one chance that India had…the momentum was by far and large with India and the need of the hour was to decimate the Lankans with Brute force. The batting of the great Indian batting strength was a mockery on the same pitch where Veeru ruled!

  10. Well…I think if India has to become Australia like then the kind of people that are picked should change. More people from the small towns and villages should be picked who are generally fearless. The more urbane and educated, the more we are unable to adopt Australia style of intimidation.

    • dont you think thats a very easy answer to a complex problem?? Murphys law says such answers are always incorrect…

      • I think Srikkanth – The original “fearless” guy of Indian Cricket – was from a Metro. When Sachin “I’m from Bombay” Tendulkar was younger and “fearless”, the Metro argument never existed. What you have suggested is not even an “answer”.. its an arbitrary, illogical, statement.

        The whole ruthless thing can happen when you have the talent and skills to back up. It requires a team that’s been around, playing together, for a while. It comes from clarity of thought, rather than, lack of thought, as you seem to insinuate.

  11. Dravid didn’t last long today. SRT started brightly and then suddenly realized he is playing a TEST match. VVS started slowly, but picked up later. Yuvraj doesn’t deserve a mention along with these 3. Sooner or later, he has to make way for Vijay.
    But to me, the most inexplicable phase was Dhoni batting with Zaheer. Why on earth should Zak bat for 50 balls to score 7? MSD himself was not making any efforts to trouble the scorer.

  12. At first you had visions of a collapse after the departure of VS and since that did not happen now you have to crib about the middle order not scoring at the same strike rate as Sehwag. Your expectations do really swing from one extreme to another!

    The obvious question is why should the middle order risk a collapse by scoring at the same pace as VS when you can play safe and still win comfortably? I agree we are in this position because of VS but having lost both the overnight batsmen early in the morning, surely the right thing to do is not give away the advantage by losing more wickets in the first session? It would have been easy for the middle order batsmen to get carried away by Sehwag’s blistering innings yesterday and try to emulate him but they did the right thing by playing the ball on merit.

    • The obvious question is the one I obviously answered in that piece, mate. I do recall pointing out that what I was saying was not from the limited perspective of one Test, but of making the transition from a good side to a champion outfit. Be counter productive to cut paste that thing all over again in the comments field.

      As for expectations — *shrug* it is my team. I want it to do well, and then to do even better. If that is a crime, sure I’ll plead guilty. But then, I treat my own working life the same way, so call it a personal thing and let’s agree to disagree.

      • Your argument is based entirely on a presumption that the great Australian side of the 90’s would have batted differently in a similar situation but that is purely hypothetical. The definition of a champion outfit, at least in my book, includes the requirement of not being foolhardy.

      • Prem

        I am not sure if we can expect others to follow Sehwagism. You know that even in ODIs, people go for shots-out-of-their-kits only in the last few overs. Today, Sachin was scoring briskly when Dravid was there, but shifted the gears down after Dravid was out. Now, was it required? If you think from a “i-am-going-to-kill-you” angle, no. But from a “need-to-bat-till-end-of-day” angle, makes sense. Going by what Dhoni and Zaheer did in the later phase of the innings, we know which way they wanted to go. Which leads to criticism of lack of killer spirit.

        Now, a few things.

        One, the killer spirit shown by the Aussies in their glory time was a special kind. I am not sure we can consider that as a benchmark. Can we consider Sehwag as a benchmark? Its the same way with that Aussie team too.

        Two, even in their glory, even Aussie guy did not go for the kill everytime. It was a man called Gilchrist who was in the front of a murder charge most of the time. I do not quite recollect a situation where Steve Wagh or any of their middle order batsmen doing what you are expecting Dravid/Sachin/Lax to do. I bet you that if Sehwag had been a lower middle order batsmen who came in after the middle order laid a foundation, he would have definitely murdered any attack. The speciality of the Aussies was that they had a biggie Hayden at the top and another biggie Gilchrist at the bottom.

        Third, lets not forget that Aussie had McGrath and Warnie. Everytime both of them were absent or not on top of their game, Aussies used to wobble at times (but used to win anyhow, but thats not killer spirit, but tenacity). That is why India put up a strong challenge to Australia even in their glory period. We had people who could handle McGrath and Warnie confidently over a long period.

        Fourth, a world no1 is just a world no1, need not be compared with other great teams. For India to become a great team, it has to have some genuinely great bowlers who can backup the occassional collapse of the batsmen.

  13. You know what – India are where they need to be at. If everyone starts playing in the same mode as Sehwag does, India would be a hit and miss team. A “team” needs players with different temperaments to be complete and this Indian team has a good mix. That’s the reason they have got the results they have in the past few years quite consistently.

    • “Consistently?” I presume you are including recent performances against South Africa and against an Australia that was a patch on the team we held to a draw Down Under, when you talk of consistency, mate? Not to mention the slump in the fortunes of both the one day squad and the T20 squad?

      • Firstly – The Australian team that toured India was certainly much more than a patch above the team we held to a drawn series down under(tell me again – what was the Aussie bowling attack like in that series)? The team which we beat in India is much better than that one, purely based on the relative strengths of their bowling attacks.It’s not even a comparison. Lee,Clark,Johnson,Siddle(granted he was a debutant in that series) are any day better than Williams,Bracken,MacGill as a test bowling attack. On second thoughts, were you referring to the Aussie team we “lost to” on our last tour down-under,instead?

        Yes.We did draw the series against SA(which incidentally is not too bad considering our record against them in test cricket).

        I don’t claim that India are the dominant team in world cricket at the moment. In terms of test cricket, India have been consistent(possibly more than anytime in their cricketing history). They own most of the test series results(home and away – except for Aus away, SA away & SL away. Thats from memory and I could be wrong).

        What I am arguing is that, to be a dominant team ,its not necessary to always go slam-bang on the field. There are times when you need to be calculating so that you get the results.If the entire team plays their cricket that way, the team’s results are going to be hit or miss.

        • Agreed the 2003 bowling lineup was not the greatest. But, you have conveniently left out 1 name. Did you forget that Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie played that series? And any day he is a much much better bowler than Lee,Clark,Johnson,Siddle.

          • JII: Ok. I forgot Gillespie. Does it change the argument I was making? No. Because Gillespie,Williams,Bichel,Bracken etc vs Lee,Clark,Johnson,Siddle is a no-brainer. And I am not very sure if Gillespie is clearly better than Clark or Johnson individually.Atleast in the case of Johnso, the judgement has to wait.

        • Er. Where did I say you always have to go slam bang?

          I said, IF and WHEN you have the momentum, you need to seize it.

          You think not? Fine, let’s agree to disagree.

          • I think its very simple: Dhoni and co thought- lets bat till end of day. The only guys who could possibly go 5 RPO was Yuvi and Dhoni, but they would need one of Sachin/Lax to hold fort. Things didnt go quite like they wanted, but they eventually batted till EOD, possibly 50 runs shorter than expected.

          • India,at various points in the game today, did not have the momentum. I guess if we are to disagree, we have to disagree from that point onwards.

          • I have to agree with Tea Cup on this one. Not every one can go out and dominate like Sehwag. Plus, the SL bowlers actually stuck to their plans today. I thought the leg-side fielding set up especially for VVS was excellent. I understand Sehwag – with the mood he was in – wouldnt have cared for it, but, you have to agree that SL bowled much better on 3rd day.

            When both your overnight batsmen fall so quickly, it is necessary to plug the leak before it becomes a deluge. As you mentioned, we did not want a repeat of MCG 2003. So, it was very understandable when SRT and VVS slowed it down. PLus, the overarching goal here was to bat just once, bat time, and even if you have to bat in 4th inning, the target won’t be too big. With those requirements, the idea of playing out most of the day was essential, which we did. Yeah, we may have been short by 50-75 runs, but, as luck would have it, when people tried to accelerate, (VVS, YS), they got out. Bummer. And, if we had continued the pursuit of fast runs, we were opening ourselves to the possibility (however small it may be) of getting out cheaply and fast, and SL may get a foot in the door and we would have to make 200+ to win the game in the 4th inning. lets not forget they have their sehwag in their line up as well..

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