Daily Archives: 28 July 2007

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 1 — Dravids’ Captaincy

Apart from a brief spell of about 20 minutes or so prior to the tea break, I thought India bowled well to wrest the 1st day honours in the 2nd Test against England.

Mahesh has already provided a comment on the days’ play.

I’ll focus here on Dravids’ captaincy. There were a few moves by Dravid that stood out for me:

(a) The choice to have a bowl.

This was a brave decision. A good one. Although Vaughan also indicated that he’d have a bowl had he won the toss, this was a brave decision, for, a repeat of the Lords’ 1st hour would have caused Indian fickle fans and media to nail Dravid to the cross. For backing his bowlers to extract max juice from the pitch, Dravid gets my kudos. Ganguly may have had a somewhat curious role in prompting this decision; a role that the match referee may want to look at more closely (according to Nasser Hussain).

(b) Dravids’ choice to bring on R. P. Singh to Kevin Pietersen.

R. P. Singh was initially pasted by Kevin Pietersen for a few fours and was removed from the attack. Zaheer Khan was brought in. Zaheer had just bowled a terrific over to Pietersen in which the English batsman had been beaten a few times and got rapped on the pads in what looked reasonably adjacent. Yet, Dravid swapped him for R. P. Singh; a move that paid immediate dividends. Singh had Pietersen with a beauty that swung in. Throughout the day, I thought Dravid used his bowlers really well.

(c) Dravids’ decision to keep Ganguly on when Cook was batting.

This was, in my view the best move of the lot. Ganguly had just bowled 1 over before the tea break. After the tea break Kumble bowled the first over. It appeared to me that Kumble wasn’t happy from the end that he was bowling from. Ganguly was brought in from the other end in a move that I thought was intended mainly to swap Kumbles’ end. But then Dravid must have seen something in Cooks’ batting that prompted him to keep Ganguly in the attack for 7 overs on the trot. Cook was playing with an exaggerated movement to get bat in front of pad to cover the swing into the pads from his off. Clearly Cook did not want a repeat of his Lords’ dismissal to Ganguly. Even for a tall lad, this was an over correection, I thought. Simultaneously, Dravid placed a strange field on the legside for Cook facing Ganguly where a forward shortleg and a shortleg were virtually in a straight line to the batsman. All of these may have perpetuated in Cook getting out LBW to Ganguly again. Sam Kumar may whinge about whether or not this was a correct decision by Simon Taufel. It was not. But the scoreboard reads “Cook lbw Ganguly 43”. Ganguly had bowled a terrific spell. He had done his job.

(d) His field placings throughout the day were smart, in my view.

(e) His decision to put the brakes on post-Tea.

After his decision to bowl first, the bowlers had delivered, but for a brief spell prior to tea when R. P. Singh — in particular — appeared to lose the plot. Zaheer Khan too gave away 14 runs in a wayward over just prior to tea. Dravid reigned it in. Instead of going on the attack after tea, the team decided to play the patience game instead. They bowled to a plan and stuck to line and length instead. The over-attacking bowlers were set aside. Zaheer Khan was set a field in which he had to bowl a tight line and length. Runs were squeezed out.

We had a spell, instead, from Kumble (1 over), Ganguly and Zaheer Khan. They bowled tightly and to well-set fields. They cut out the runs — in the first 15 overs after the tea-break, only 20 runs were scored. The result was a lose shot from Collingwood and Cooks’ tentativeness. Good leadership stemming from smart situation awareness, I thought.

There may be others too, but I thought I’d highlight these few points.

The hard work has commenced. The bowlers did well. The team did well — despite a dropped catch by Tendulkar. The bowlers need to now finish off the job. The batsmen need to play positively and put the runs on the board. With this brilliant start, India should see this as a wonderful platform from which to build strongly.

— Mohan

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Bowlers deliver

Dravid won the toss and put England in to bat. My immediate reaction was that of surprise. The ground reports shown on TV said that the outfield was very soggy and the bowlers would struggle with the run up and delivery, plus the ball would become soft very quickly. On the other hand, the humid conditions with a hint of breeze meant it would favor the swing bowlers well.

Whether Dravid had more faith in his bowlers or less faith in his batsmen, he decided to bowl first and the bowlers did deliver.

The job is only half done. It will be the turn of the batsmen to deliver tomorrow. The conditions that were so favorable to the Indians will continue tomorrow for the English bowlers to exploit and it will be up to the Indian batsmen to ensure a lead of at least 100-150 runs.

But first there is the small matter of removing the last three English wickets. The worst thing that could happen (apart from the Indian batsmen failing, of course),  is for the Indians to let the English tail take the score beyond 200.

(There has been a lot of criticism on Dravid’s captaincy in the previous game. But a captain is only as good as his team. If the captain plans something, and the rest of the team do not play according to it, the captain usually gets blamed. If the Indian bowlers had bowled poorly today, everyone would have criticized Dravid for the decision to bowl. But now that the bowlers have delivered, it seems to be a brilliant one!)

-Mahesh-