Boring and defensive - which team?
With a 1-0 lead in the series
, it'd be tempting for everyone to write about how Dhoni & co. had such a defensive approach on the third day at Nagpur
Yet, keep in mind that the 8-1 and 7-2 fields were in place mostly during the first session. Australia, with a batting lineup of Hussey, Katich, Clarke, Watson, Haddin & White, didn't improvise or do anything to counter India's strategy (first choke off the runs, wait for one wicket to fall, and then move in for the 'kill'). They could have come down the track to the quicks, played more reverse sweeps, taken strike outside off to work the ball to leg, etc. But nothing of that sort happened. It wasn't until the last session that there was some urgency around the proceedings.
Sure, India's strategy was defensive, but that was only in the first session. Australia didn't keep their nerve, which is what India relied on.
Australia, in the 2004 series, opted for a similar strategy
(ok, 8-1 was a bit of an extreme) and won. That strategy, implemented beautifully by the bowlers with India's batsmen unable to counter it, was hailed by all and sundry, and rightly so. It gave them the best chance of winning the series by capitalizing on the Indian batsmen's reluctance to be innovative or take singles.
Even if you ignore the approach for first couple of sessions, Australia could have actually declared around half an hour before stumps and had a go at India's batsmen with the hope of taking a couple of wickets, if not more. As it turned out, they got one over!
Today, Australia's best hope is to rely on India muffing up the lines, and ideally getting bowled out for 220-odd. I guess they'll settle for around 7-8 wickets today without conceding more than 200 runs, considering that India are nearly 90 ahead.
India will aim to score at least 300 today, not losing more than 5 wickets and then try to bat around half an hour tomorrow morning (to make first use of the roller, the heavy one!) setting a 450 run target. Ideally though, Rahul Dravid will make some runs. But given the way he's batted in the recent past and the dropped catch yesterday, a retirement announcement maybe around the corner.
It could yet be a fascinating test match. I am not going to rule out an Australian comeback, for the simple reason that the 'Great B@st@rds' manage to fight back and win so bloody often
In an unrelated development, Malcolm Conn finally wrote an article
which doesn't contain the words "India have been the worst behaved team in the last decade"
Labels: aus v ind 2008, australia, boring, india