Thursday, April 12, 2012

A tale of two chases

I give you two scenarios:

A)  The #1 ranked team in the world is playing the #7th ranked team.  The #1 team has 47 overs to chase 180 runs to win on the 5th day of the Test match.

B)  The #4 ranked team in the world is playing the same #7 ranked team.  The #4 team has about 50 overs to chase 192 to win on the 5th day of the Test match.

One of the teams won the match and the other drew the match.  Which was which?

Team A was India in the West Indies last year.  Team B was Australia in the West Indies yesterday. India settled for the draw despite losing just 3 wickets (with Laxman, Dravid, Dhoni, and Kohli still not out)., Australia chased the win, not letting up even though they lost 7 wickets along the way.

A year later, the botched Indian chase (and its farcical end) still stings.  Yes, it helped preserve India's #1 ranking but it also betrayed a safety-first mindset that came back and bit the Indian team really badly on the next two away tours to England and Australia.  MS Dhoni's timid captaincy shocked me and, in my mind, he has never shaken that tag since then. The seeds for the winter of discontent had been sown a few weeks earlier, but the weeds began to flourish on that sad day in the Windies.

It would not surprise me one bit if Australia continued to climb the rankings and overtake India in the near future.  They deserve to because they play to win.

If you do not fear failure, success will soon follow in your wake.


Fidelis said...

Amen! The #1 tag is a poison chalice. The only team in recent memory that deserved it and played like it was Steve Waugh's Aussies. I don't know if its the Indian culture or what, we are risk averse, and that shows in everything we do. Hope the next gen kids in Kohli and gang change that.

Jaunty Quicksand said...

I am not sure if the next generation will learn. These are the folks who are still playing along with the Tendulkars of the world and are bound to pick up some tips from them. Case in point: the way Virat Kohli celebrated his century in Perth even as the Indian team was going down to a 4-0 clinching defeat said it all.

Also, have you seen MS Dhoni's captaincy, of late, in Test matches? The first boundary by an opposing batsman is an invitation push a fielder to the boundary. *sigh*

(Except at third man - for some reason all modern captains love to watch the ball race off the edge of the bat to that boundary).