Could India have shown a bit more urgency with the bat on day 5?
The way Virat batted after Saha’s dismissal, it became very, very clear that he always wanted to set the game up for an exciting finish.
Updated - Nov 21, 2017 12:51 pm
“We are going to be positive tomorrow and try to make a match of it,” these were Shikhar Dhawan’s words when Murali Kartik asked him about Team India’s plans going into the 5th day of the Kolkata Test match.
India’s start on the 5th morning was exactly along the lines of what Dhawan said. The two overnight batsmen came out with intent. There weren’t too many dead bat shots as you generally see in the morning sessions of a Test match. Both Rahul and Pujara were looking to get the ball into the gaps and collect runs.
Sri Lanka, however, made early inroads with some disciplined bowling and India were soon reduced to 4 for 213. And then in at 6 was a surprise. It was neither Ravichandran Ashwin nor Wriddhiman Saha. It was Ravindra Jadeja who had batted at 8 in the first innings.
If anyone ever needed a hint as to how the Indian team management was thinking, that was that. India were looking to set up the game just like a world no. 1 team would do.
At snail’s pace
But the way Jadeja batted was staggering. He scored 9 off 41 balls. And then the two batsmen who followed Ashwin and Saha, added 7 off 25 and 5 off 23 respectively which made it a total of 21 off 89 balls. The Indian captain Virat Kohli was batting at the other end all that while and was just not getting enough strike to get on with things.
India’s plan must not have been to save the game. If that was the case, Jadeja’s promotion to no. 6 was illogical. The only rationale behind sending him in at 6 was to get some quick runs.
What must be noted is that this Sri Lankan team is inexperienced and their record in the second innings in the recent past has been real bad. They might have won the Test series against Pakistan in UAE, but in the second innings of the two Test matches of that series, their scores were 138 and 96 respectively. So there was a high probability that they would crumble under pressure.
Also the pitch at Eden Gardens was not the easiest in the world to bat on. It had enough in it to keep the fast bowlers interested even on day 5 despite losing the sting that it had on day 1. Apart from that, there was a hint of uneven bounce in the Pujara dismissal where the ball just rose from length and surprised the batsman. Keeping all these factors in mind, there was no point not having a crack at the Lankans.
Lack of communication?
And the way Virat batted after Saha’s dismissal, it became very, very clear that he always wanted to set the game up for an exciting finish. But if that was the thought process which was obviously right, why did Jadeja, Ashwin and Saha played that way they did and more so Jadeja and why there was no communication from the team management asking them to be a little positive and not to just dot it up?
They didn’t have to slog, it was just about trying and making the scoring opportunities count and more importantly rotating the strike frequently to make sure Virat was playing 3 or 4 deliveries in an over and was chipping away with the runs.
This probably would not have been a point of discussion at all if Jadeja had not been promoted. Ashwin batting at 6 and scoring 9 off 41 would have been alright because that would have meant India were looking to save the game, but the fact Jadeja walked in at 6 indicated that India were looking to make something out of the situation. Then why didn’t Jadeja just go for it?
A quick cameo there would have allowed India to reach that safety mark (which was a lead of 230 in their opinion) much earlier and would have given that bit of extra time to the Indian quicks to complete the 4th innings business which eventually remained unfinished. As it turned out at the end, it was just a matter of 5 or 6 more overs for India to wrap up the visitors and take a 1-0 lead.