What should be India’s tactics for Day 4 and thereon?
Is the ongoing 3rd Test match headed for a draw? Is the outcome of the match already decided? Have Australia avoided a complete whitewash?
Though these outcomes seem highly likely, this game is definitely strange and stranger things have happened in the game.
The third Test of the coveted Border-Gavaskar trophy started amidst controversy in the Australian camp that led to the Kangaroo’s vice-captain, Shane Watson facing the axe and a mood of tension prevailed in the camp.
The media, as it is known for creating hype, already declared India the winner and were advocates of a whitewash being only imminent, but who has ever achieved something without God’s will? The first day of the Mohali Test was washed out with persistent rain with the match now reduced to a four-day affair.
Day 2 began with the Kangaroos in the ascendency, garnering 139 runs for the opening ceremony before the man touted to be the ‘clown’ in the team, Ravindra Jadeja struck a double blow, getting rid of David Warner and Clarke. India did well from thereon, getting wickets at regular intervals, but the Steven Smith, playing in his first Test of the series had a point to prove and looked gritty on the crease. Australia was seven down for 252 at the end of Day 3. It looked as if India would wrap Australia for something around 300-325, but Steven Smith and Mitchell Starc had other ideas and held a solid defence, coupled with some good stroke-play to get the scoreboard ticking and got Australia well past the 300 mark. India finally struck when Steven Smith was dismissed for 92, but Starc grew from strength to strength and started accumulating some quick runs and took Australia’s total to 399, before being dismissed and the final pair added nine more runs to take Australia’s tally to 408.
The match already looked to be destined for a draw, with just a batting collapse for the home team, which was highly unlikely, looking to bring a result out of the match. But India got off to a blistering start with debutant Shikhar Dhawan stepping up to the plate and giving momentum to this Indian side, providing reminiscence of the Nawab of Najafgarh, Sehwag. Dhawan struck some meaty blows and classy drives through the offside, reminding one and all of the great Sourav Ganguly, who used to rule the offside like no one else.
Shikhar Dhawan, in the process, got his maiden Test hundred on debut, the quickest in the history of the game by a debutant and took India to a total of 283 at blistering pace; with the run rate of 4.87 an over by the end of the day.
India now find themselves trailing by 125 with two days to play. If India wants to hope for any chance of a win, they need to take a handsome lead and try to bowl out the Aussies and to give the bowlers a fair chance, they need at least 110-120 overs.
India, hence, need to bat well and quick tomorrow, just the way Dhawan did today. With about 200 overs to go in the game, India should look to bat for a period of about 80 overs with a run rate of a little over 4, which will result in 320 runs, and a lead of about 200. India can then look to get the Aussies out as quickly as possible on a tearing and wearing wicket, trying to exploit the footmarks of the bowlers on the last day of the game.
India hence, should look to change something and on top of the list comes the batting order. For India to score quick, the likes of Kohli and Dhoni need to bat higher up the order, probably 3 and 4 and try to keep up the pressure and even build it further on the Aussies. Another important factor and even more important would be how long can Dhawan bat and in the same mould as today.
With a good spin attack at their disposal, India can then look to catch the Aussies off their feet and assert themselves and try getting something from the game.
Though easier said than done, but nothing is impossible and what better than sports to teach this.