Sehwag or bust

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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.

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5 Responses to “Sehwag or bust”

  1. pamthree Says:

    but how many teams have chased 300+ in the last day.With the middle order india now has u never know when they will collapse.

  2. Angshuman Says:

    Vrey nice post, especially the observation that 1) It will be a ‘Viru day’ when India chase over 200 on the last day, and 2) totally closing shop only ensures defeat rather than avoiding it.

    I remember friend asking me an hour and a half from close of play during the Bangalore ’05 match against Pakistan if India would save the match or not, and I only said ‘may still be possible, if only someone comes out and plays positively’. Kumble came out and tried, but it was too late.

  3. Sukhi Says:

    Well, actually the team looks mostly to Sehwag or Dravid in terms of batting. There hardly has been anyone else who has stood up consistently to be counted upon, of late.

    Whatever wins – or sniffs at wins – we have had involved significant if not sole contributions from these two.

    So really, it has to be Sehwag as the battering ram up front followed by Dravid holding fort. Every one else has just not been consistent enough.

  4. Pratik Says:

    Pam, that attitude’s the antithesis of progress. Imagine what would’ve happened if SA were thinking that when they were asked to chase 434 in an ODI. Our middle order is not that bad. Tendulkar was missing in WI, but he was there for the other games, and regardless of what anybody says, he’s still good. In Dravid, we have, without a shred of doubt, the best man you can have to draw out a game. Why not use to the best effect? Have a go at the target, but if trouble starts to brew, bring in Dravid to stem the loss.

    While I think it’ll give us a better chance of winning, I’m not saying it’ll always work. Maybe we’ll lose one before winning one. But once we do, other teams will be more conservative than usual in setting us targets (420 in 80 overs instead of 380 in 90), which just means a better chance of us not losing.

  5. Amar Says:

    I agree with all your points. In all three matches, we should’ve had a realistic go at the target and not the half-hearted effort that the team showed. But, really, who’s to blame but Dravid? He is a terrific player and all that but it is his strike rate that prevents India from winning consistently. Granted that he has won India a lot of matches but I can bet you that he has also prevented us from winning a lot of matches.
    Even in the first inning (of pretty much ALL the matches), his strike is so below par that it doesn’t allow the team enough time to bowl the opposition out twice (which we have a hard time doing anyway).

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