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    June 05, 2006

    Ind-WI: Righting the wrong

    The hot topic of debate amongst Indian cricket fans is the team for first test, and the decision to bat first on a helpful track. As I have been pointing out during discussions, IMO these two are related to the same mistake of misreading the pitch. Here's what Chappell had to say about the decision to bat
    Chappell justified India's opting to bat first. "I think conditions weren't easy for batting on Friday. We decided when we won the toss to bat first. In hindsight that may not have been the ideal thing to do, but I think it was important that we did it, and we tried to take control of the game. West Indies bowled pretty well. I thought our guys under the circumstances didn't play badly, but maybe 300 was probably a more likely score under the conditions," he said
    Notice the word *hindsight*? That means, at that time, no-one (yes I mean no-one) got the grasp of the conditions right. Neither captains, nor the pre-match pitch analysis. Ofcourse he is right, in hindsight it was a bad decision, and also right that after getting it wrong, India still batted under par to not reach 300 (not 400-500 at some were predicting, despite watching the Indians flounder).

    And the decision to play VRV instead of a second spinner in Bhajji was once again related to the same misreading of the pitch. This is what Chappell said
    "We couldn't afford to play Harbhajan under the conditions," Chappell told AFP. "We felt that we needed three pace bowlers. There wasn't a place for a second spin bowler.
    But here I disagree. I do understand that according to their interpretation of the conditions (not challengable at that time, mind you) it was perhaps not wrong to think of three pacers. But once they realised that they are going to leave out their experienced paceman, they should have thought of the additional factor of experience. Unless they thought the pitch was a Faisalabad-like batting-beauty, Bhajji was still going to add more value to the attack than *another* rookie like VRV. This is not to say that VRV doesn't have potential (from what little we've seen, there are signs of something good there, and we need to wait a while longer to judge), just that the pitch condition is just *one* factor, albeit the most important one, in chosing an attack.

    Anyway, now that India has managed to get itself out of the hole, we may yet see something positive from the same attack. But first, there's a long way to go in the batting, and right now *saving the test* should still be top on the agenda. If we see off the first session without much alarms (i.e. losing no more than one wicket), then only can realistic thoughts of winning be harboured.

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    Thus spake worma @ 1:39 PM |
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