India are chasing 499 for victory. We have two days to get there, to rewrite Test history. But one man can write a script totally unexpected – Rahul Dravid.
At stumps on day 3, Dravid was batting on 3 off 30 deliveries, a scoring rate well above that in the previous inning, where he managed to bore everyone (including his own self, possibly) by helping himself to 5 runs off 66 deliveries. At a strike rate of 1 from 12 deliveries, Dravid is probably aiming to bat out the next 180 overs and guide India to an unexpected draw.
But no, this is not about statistics.
India’s scoring rate shows, nay, exposes our lack of confidence in taking on the Aussies. We are giving the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Brad Hogg much more respect than their bowling deserves. On the contrary, the Aussies approach every Test match as if it were a one-day contest. They strive to maintain a run rate of around 4, which requires them to be aggressive. This pushes the opposition on to the back foot, and secondly gives the Aussies fighting totals quick, which lends their bowlers a platform to work with.
Over the past few years, the Australians have used this aggression-submission technique to transform cricket into a different kind of sport. Technique and artistry, once the hallmarks of the “gentleman’s game”, have been replaced by improvisation and brute force. Which also explains why we prefer watching MS Dhoni to VVS Laxman. And as sport is a result-oriented business, winning is everything.
The Indian cricket team might be World Twenty20 champions. But if we are to seriously challenge Australia in the other forms of the sport, submissive cricket is not going to get us anywhere. While blooding the team with youngsters is important, it is more important to infuse in them more aggression and killer instinct that has made the formidable Aussies the team to beat.
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