Just Standing On The Wicket , Enough ?
When we talk about classic Test cricket, we often talk about skill required for batsman to survive on such testing conditions. Indeed those skills are required. But is test cricket only about protecting your wicket & play defensive? Not to forget the game’s most successful batsman still is Don Bradman who has the average of 99.94 ! But because of the format and some players who preferred to play slow to save their wickets and this format allowed them to do so because of its very nature . So spectators started to blame Test Cricket for players inabilities or psychology and also because of introduction of shorter formats like T-20 , where you are forced to hit every ball.
But some batsmen are still there who are recognized as Test specialist because they can stay longer on the wicket. But is that enough? This question arises looking at India’s test batsman Cheteshvar Pujara looking at how he played at first innings in 1st Test between India vs. South Africa. Now don’t get me wrong . Pujara is a great player & I really value him as a player . But here what I want to comment about the mindset by which India shouldn’t go in a match like this .
Pujara came to bat on the evening of day 1 when India lost a wicket quickly & was in trouble even after managing to restrict SA for a cheap score . When Pujara came India were 16-1 & was of course in trouble. Pujara played till sometime after lunch on day 2 and played almost 100 balls . But when Pujara got out, India was on 76-5 that means in still more trouble. So what was the use of Pujara’s experience . By experience I mean not overall but in this particular innings, where he had spent ample time on the wicket and was a well set batsman. You expect something from your top batsman that too when he gets set once that he will take out of this position. But for that you have to play positive and play each ball on it’s merit and should not hesitate to play shots as and when required. Sadly Pujara didn’t show that intent and continued playing defensively . Which of course wasn’t enough .
Whereas when Pandya came, he played aggressively. Of course ball was old that time & wicket more playable but here intent was important. He was lucky initially but he rode on his luck. He scored 93 in just 95 balls and because of that India reached to at least a respectable score.
Now am not advocating Pandya’s way of batting also. He had luck on his side. He batted rather fiercely. But couldn’t do so in second innings because he was trying to do the same .
This is what the problem with India is . They are either too defensive or too attacking . But they have to play each ball on it’s merit. But as the captain Virat Kohli said, ” We need to have intent because the kind of bowling attack they have – especially on these pitches they get extra bounce and they get extra pace off the wicket – you can’t be in a zone of not having intent and see off 35-40 overs. You need to find the perfect balance to do well in South Africa especially where there is more bounce.” Hope the team remembers it next time including captain Kohli.
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