When chasing 350+ totals on the last day, India’s attitude is summed up by the title of this post. If Sehwag plays really well and manages to take India very close to the total, then they’ll have a go at the target. Otherwise, not really. As well all know, that has never happened for Sehwag’s record in the second innings is quite ordinary: an average in the mid-20s and no centuries.
But what if Sehwag does just well enough? India scored at four and a half runs per over in the first session on the last day of the 3rd Test against the WI without losing a wicket. Isn’t that a good enough start to be a little positive in the second session? Yes, they lost two wickets, but that’s no reason to throw in the towel. And what’s with tea being the magical point where they decide whether or not to have a go at the target? When you’re only two down with twenty minutes to go to tea, isn’t it obvious to have a go at the target? Why then play out 5 overs for very few runs at that point?
India’s had a few opportunities to chase 350+ totals in the last 15 months. They’ve made good starts in all. Against Pakistan in Bangalore, they were 103/1 at lunch chasing 383; against England in Nagpur they were 63/1 chasing 368; and against West Indies in St. Kitts they were 109/0 chasing 392. Yet they’ve failed to chase any of them. The good thing is that they didn’t repeat the mistake they had made against Pakistan: shutting down shop completely after losing two quick wickets post-lunch and thus allowing Pakistan to go on all-out attack. Lara wanted to do the same, and tried if after Sehwag was out, but India kept the scorecard ticking and he had to start worrying about saving runs.
But what bothers me is that India had a realistic chance of chasing down the targets in the other two games and they just didn’t react quick enough. They were far too negative early on, and ended up requiring more than 200 runs in the last session. Sehwag is not the only one who can get them to that target. I think that if Sehwag gives us a decent enough start, we need to drop Dravid to no. 5 in the batting order. That way, we can keep the run-rate going and if a few wickets fall, then we have the best defense in the world to see us through to the end of the day.