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    November 09, 2008

    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".

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 6:46 AM |
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    7 sledge(s):

    blaming msd's tactics was ridiculous, to say the least. to me, it looked awesome tactics which is why test cricket is my first love.

    many ppl blame these tactics for making test cricket boring. if anything, its these wonders that makes tests entertaining. entertainment isnt just belting the bowlers out of the park or picking wickets, its about intelligent thinking and winning sessions and put the other team under pressure.

    aus are 1-0 down and they were playing as if they were 1-0 up. as you have said, they played into india's hands and didnt try anything to get out of the rut.

    By Blogger Ganesh (09-Nov-2008, 7:41:00 AM)  

    Indians get caught when they do dirty as they are not used to it.


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    By Blogger Christopher Poshin David (09-Nov-2008, 3:26:00 PM)  

    boring n defensive....? at the end of the 4th days play, u have to say that ponting just handed over any chance of winnig. With all over the Indians when they were 6 down for 160 odd, he gets on the par timers on due to the over rate, ridiculous.... its high time he gets sacked from captaincy for this, India on the other hand with 360+ lead never declared, and with two overs left in the day, Dhoni has 4 men saving the boundary... guess no one wants to win this match....Hopefully tomorrow will be different for Dhoni, with his intelligent tactics may be he can take the ten wickets, on the other hand Aussies have to play for a draw, dont see them getting anywhere near the target.

    By Blogger harsha (09-Nov-2008, 6:11:00 PM)  

    You can't blame the Aussies for slow overrates (read defensive tactics when Indian batsmen are scoring a thousand runs and hour!) on one hand, then defend Dhoni's tactics on the other.

    Having said that, taking risks is what Dhoni wanted the Aussie batsmen to do, and it was up to them, to choose the right time to do it, which they did! Then, if it works, good for them, if not, good for Dhoni.

    The fact that Ausralia have probably won 2, maybe 3 session in this entire series, yet are still in the hunt is a credit to their never say die attitude. This side isn't a patch of previous years, but they haven't lost the "heart" of those sides, just some of the ability.

    We're in for some entertainment on day 5 at which point 8-1 fields and slow overrates will be forgotten for awhile.

    My tip, Australia to build up our hopes in session 1, at 1 for 120, then be bundled out shortly after tea, for 220.

    Good luck.

    By Blogger Stu (10-Nov-2008, 6:46:00 AM)  

    for australia, i think it's all to do with the captain's brainlessness which has been on the display many times this series.

    with kumble's captaincy on the other hand, you dont find much of a difference. but when dhoni takes over ricky has been found wanting very badly.

    By Blogger Ganesh (10-Nov-2008, 10:40:00 AM)  

    Australia used to just win on talent and ruthlessness.

    Today they no longer have talent and their captain is a brainless jackass.

    Should have been 4-0!

    Go India!

    By Blogger Degenerasian (10-Nov-2008, 1:55:00 PM)  

    Stu: Excellent tips! I think the point we're making though, is along multiple dimensions

    1. With 2 spinners in the side, there's no way Australia should have got that far behind the over rate.

    2. Priority - What's more important? Getting the over rate sorted out to prevent a fine/ban or winning the test to draw the series & retain the trophy?

    3. Missing the moment - When Dhoni and Harbhajan were putting on a crucial partnership, was it not immediately apparent to him that this was a series clinching one? Ponting went off the field around the 52nd over and came back in the 53rd. Obviously he was discussing the over rate with Nielsen & co. When Hussey was thrown the ball, India were 189/6 after 56 overs, a lead of around 275. Then he had Clarke bowling in tandem with Krejza. By the time Watson was brought in, India had got out of jail (274/6 in 76 - scoring 85 runs in 20 overs) and Australia's target had probably gone from 300 to 380.

    By Blogger Jagadish (11-Nov-2008, 5:27:00 AM)  


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