The 1st Test match between India and Australia being played at Bengaluru is quite interestingly poised. Of the three possible scenarios, I think I’d have to be totally one-eyed to suggest that India has a chance of winning this game. Australia is 263 runs ahead and there are 90 overs remaining to be played in this game. I’d like to think that the batting of Brad Haddin and Shane Watson has ensured that the only two possible results are (a) an Australia win, (b) a draw.
Visions of Sydney, 2008 flash past! First Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey ensured in Sydney that an India win was ruled out of the equation. Then, some poor umpiring, a bump-ball claim and some callously poor batting conjured an Australian victory on that famous evening.
The situation is quite similar in this Test being played at Bengaluru. Yesterday, Australia commenced their batting in much the same way as Australia had, in the 2nd innings, in Sydney. Australia batted time and with extreme caution to ensure that an Indian win was all but ruled out. New age batting. Clever batting. Attritional batting. Not so attractive batting and certainly un-Australian batting. But clever batting nonetheless.
I do believe India has been batted out of this Test. If Australia bat another hour on the final day, even if India takes the remaining 5 wickets in a tearing hurry, I’d imagine that Australia will be at least 290 runs ahead, if not 320 runs ahead.
India will probably have about 75 overs to chase this target of somewhere between 290 and 320. To win, India would have to score at a somewhat improbable rate of between 3.5 and 4.2 runs per over. Given that the innings scoring rate has seldom hovered over 4 runs per over, even on day-1 of this Test, I’d find it hard to believe that India can make between 290-300 runs on a crumbling day-5 pitch! This is why I suggest that, even at this stage, an India win is all but ruled out.
Would Australia be comfortable with only 75 overs to bowl India out? Perhaps. Remember that Australia — notwithstanding the assistance from umpires and a bump-ball-catch-claim — got India out in 71 overs in Sydney!
The target might be closer to 320 if Ricky Ponting has the name “Virender Sehwag” imprinted in his mind.
Even so, I do believe 290 is sufficient. India has not successfully chased a target in excess of 250 against Australia since 1964.
Moreover, Virender Sehwag has not really been a 2nd innings player! Of the 15 Test centuries that Sehwag has compiled in his career, only one of these is a second-innings ton! And, compared to his career average of 52.62 in all Tests, Sehwag averages just 30 in his 2nd innings scores. Most Test players will probably have a better 1st innings average than a 2nd innings average. However, such a wide disparity in the figures seems to suggest to me that Sehwag is more a first innings demon than a second innings party-spoiler!
I believe that even a target of 290 will be out of India’s reach. My view is that a draw will also slip through India’s fingers unless Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman are able to rise to the challenge of exorcising their recent collapse-demons — particularly Sydney.
Therefore, I think a “draw” is the best result that India fans can hope for.
An interesting days’ play awaits us.