Sunday, December 14, 2014

India vs Australia - Close 1st Test Match

A superb Test match. High level of competition. Good captaincy and a fine advertisement for the game. Well done Australia and India.

Two classy centuries by Virat Kohli, two by David Warner, a patient and dogged spell of spin  bowling by Nathan Lyon. And so many more support performances, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke, Murali Vijay.

The aggressive declarations by Australia set the game up despite losing time due to rain. Fantastic. There is no fear of losing, it is about wanting to win. Brad Haddin's handling of the captaincy in the crucial last session was good to watch.

As far as Australia was concerned they wanted to win the match - for their dear mate whom they lost in a most unfortunate accident. (Lyon patting and stroking the number 408 after the win was nice to watch - it was very private and personal and one could feel that it was authentic and not manucfatured for the television as most do.) Australia were a jittery lot but held themselves together in their endeavour. The opponents were tough and were not giving in easily. In fact the Indians showed that they wanted to win as much as the Aussies did which made it all worthwhile. In the end they held their nerves, believed in the process, did all the basics right and got through, just about.

What interests me is the situation which India was in (the part when I started to watch it from). Kohli was batting with Saha and 60 were needed in 18 overs with five wickets in hand. Your number 11 is Ishant Sharma who is no bunny with the bat - he can hold his own. One would like to ponder over what could have been done right to ensure a win from that stage - instead of losing their heads.

What is it that makes us lose our heads and focus? Saha gets almost 15 runs in an over and shows that there will be balls to hit - obviously Lyon simply cannot go on and on forever. How about rotating the strike and getting Kohli on? How about putting the pressure back on Lyon by taking just three or four singles and wait for the loose ball? How about thinking - "Hey, Lyon and the Aussies are under pressure now, can I just hang around and get used to the situation and build pressure some more?' A partnership of 30 between him and Kohli at that stage and everything would have been different.

For me, this is what the coaching staff needs to be doing. How to handle the situation? How to think in such situations? How to out think the opposition and outlast them? I don't expect this heavy coaching side to give them tips on skill - they are the most skilled in India perhaps. Its now in the realm of the mind. How can Shami, Aaron, Ishant also get into a their minds that they can play around Kohli and still pull it off? Or even they can pull it off by themselves if they applied themselves?

The J&K team that beat Mumbai said that the recent experiences with floods made them all tougher. That's a cue for our coaching team. Put them through the paces with the army, the commandos. Think out of the box.

I see the Indian dressing room. Team director Ravi Shastri, team coach Duncan Fletcher, coaches army Arun, Sridhar, Sanjay Bangar and god knows who else all watching with grave faces. Team manager Arshad Ayub is a test cricketer too -and so many more experts around. Each word and gesture from these people will weigh on the boys. If I was the Indian team captain I'd tell the boys - don't listen to ten guys, just hear and let go. Focus on your game. What is the point in having so many coaches if they cannot teach them to be mentally tough and use their discretion to make decisions that help you cross the line? It's my theory that one coach and a good captain are good enough. Let them figure it out. They will do better.

I disagree with Gavaskar's statement today that India should have played for a draw. I agree with Kohli that if they had played for a draw they would have lost by 150 runs. This is the way forward even if you lose. Don't fear losing. Go for wins. You will win more often than you will lose that way. For Kohli, his batting, his attacking captaincy and a very gracious few words at the end, a big thumbs up. Well done lad and keep going. You're on the right track. You will win more often than you lose in the end analysis. More importantly you will grow more winners in your team like you.


Ali Nawaz Juddy said...


You are on the button with this! (I am talking like Shastri here!!) But, yes, I agree absolutely with what you have written. I guess, BCCI can save itself a lot of moolah by appointing you as the coach/mentor/director rolled into one and throw away everybody else. I mean Arun as bowling coach?? Come on! No wonder the bowlers are leaking runs!! Although it became a close test match, in the end the result was fair. Australia did all the running for four days and then India wins? Not fair! I also agree with you on the words spoken by Kohli at the end of the match. Nothing inane like Dhoni does always (processes/bowling in the right areas!!)I also agree about your comment on Gavaskar! That is how he was known when he was the captain. Play safe. Always.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Ali. I am not a fan of huge coaching contingents - case of too many cooks and too little responsibility. Messes up the broth. Keep it simple, let one guy take the decisions, one guy can guide and mentor.