On basis of his present record, Dhoni would be adjudged an aggressive captain. That is something few would have disagreed on prior to India’s third Test match against the West Indies that concluded yesterday. With 86 runs and 15 overs to go one would have expected India to go for the win. They made a hearty declaration in the second Test match to set up a final day at Kensington Oval but when it came to taking the bull by the horns at Windsor Park, they were plain lazy. It is very unfortunate that India had no incentive to play for but they could have done better for the sake of Test Cricket. A victory on the day would not have improved their ranking points consequentially or changed the overall result but they could have made history by winning two tests on a single series in the Caribbean.
In the post match presentation Dhoni seemed satisfied with the result. There was no sense of urgency about the team on Day 5 as they allowed West Indies to add 100 runs with their last 4 wickets. Fidel Edwards supported Shivnarine Chanderpaul resolutely for the tenth wicket partnership. The Indian pace attack was visibly worn out after 5 days of play and there was no teeth to their hunt.
West Indies Captain Darren Sammy expressed his surprise that India did not go for the kill. He said, “With the caliber of players in their ranks, men like Dhoni and Kohli and just under 84 to get from 15 overs left, I was kind of surprised. It could be that they didn’t want to chance their arms against Bishoo”. He took the opportunity to praise his team’s bowling effort throughout the series and especially in the 3rd Test. Devendra Bishoo passed the ultimate test for a spinner with relative ease.
Dhoni’s post match interview revealed a defensive mindset. He said, “The gamble was quite high for us. We were risking a series win. It was fair enough to give it a go but it wasn’t going for us. I think we called it a day at the right time.”
In my opinion it is safe to say that there was no great outstanding risk of India’s defeat on Day 5. The pitch was not turning square nor were people being bounced out. The decision cannot be attributed to distrust in the batting line-up as VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid were still available in case of an improbable meltdown. Coach Duncan Fletcher justified the decision and said that scoring runs was difficult on the track. In my opinion, India were surely lacking in initiative on the last day of the series and looked satiated.