Monday, June 26, 2006

Sheesh, not again

Another test, another draw, another day of cricket that could have had a great deal more to offer, but which ended up offering little, largely due to some unenterprising cricket. The record will show that India scored almost 300 runs on the last day while chasing 392, and that will suggest that the pitch was still amenable to run scoring and still offered security to the batsmen. But India probably never believed that they were going to do something dramatic, which frankly, they need to do if they want to win a test series overseas. Sehwag and Jaffer had gotten them off to a good start; they had 100 runs before lunch; 200 runs before tea, and Dhoni had rightfully been promoted up the order on the fall of Laxman's wicket. Most encouragingly, before Laxman's dismissal, Dravid and he had shown what could be achieved by a pair of high-class batsman when confronted with a difficult chase. They had worked the ball around, and set up the chase nicely. Three good one-day batsmen were still to emerge from the pavilion (Dhoni, Yuvraj and Kaif), and Dravid was still there on the fall of Laxman's wicket. The small number of overs left meant that India would not have had to defend too long to save the match even if a wicket or two had fallen. Yet, mysteriously, the great chase vanished soon after Dhoni hit his first six. He went into a shell, woke up, hit a six, and then got out. Immediately after, India shut shop right away. Dravid was motoring along, Yuvraj didn't have to do anything more other than rotate strike, and Kaif was still in the wings. It was an inexplicable decision, and my sense of despair, at watching the Indian test team play yet another day of unenterprising, cautious cricket, ran deep.

The teams go to Sabina Park, and if India fail to win (whether by losing or drawing), this series should rightly be considered a failure. Its hard to know whether progress has been made on any front, other than perhaps, that of having found, hopefully, a long-term partner for Sehwag.

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