July 30, 2008

How to win a lost battle.

For India to stay afloat in the series, either the 2nd test should be rained off or the tourists should, for starters, try - try not to lose.

It can be argued that with such a negative mindset India will surely lose. Not necessary. In the first test, India tried to win from a losing position.

That in itself was self defeating.

Worse, once it was clear that the game was lost, they cut short the pain. They made the cardinal mistake of taking nothing out of a game. India forgot the very basis for test domination, as even adopted by Australia (recently in the West Indies) – win ugly rather than lose pretty.

Not that India lost pretty. Sri Lanka though, did win pretty, and that in itself is a rarity in test cricket nowadays.

But that is done. And it would appear so is India.

So, what does India do

1. Do not play bowlers by reputation. Play them by form, fitness, specific skills (as opposed to, he can also chip in with 20 runs down the order) Also how well do the Lankans play a certain bowler? Or better still, have they even faced this bowler before?

2. Do not set batting orders by reputation. With Kirsten’s coterie of mind healers and readers, an assessment of who’s in good mental shape will not be a tall ask. Weed out fragility or at best do not expose it early on. Allow confidence to shoulder extra responsibility – set game plans for batsmen, give them a sense of purpose – one that was missing in the first test. Make the plans flexible, bowler specific. Use the left-right hand batsman combinations intelligently. Demand more from batsmen who are allegedly in good form – Sehwag, Gambhir and Laxman.

3. Play tactics – control the pace of the game. If and when the two Ms are running at you like a bowling machine, do not be scared to take a breather – untie a lace, tie it again. Do the same with your pads. Do the MSD shuffle with the gloves. Try the SRT groin shuffle. Lighten up. Do not act like it’s your last day on a cricket field. Relive good memories of double hundreds even if you haven’t scored a double yet –Invent. Make up your mind not to get out. Talk to your fellow batsman like he is your fellow batsman – do not harbour bad blood from times he played under you or vice versa. Do not think too much. You are a cricketer.

4. Do not wait for the 3rd test to play for pride. Play for pride now. Field players who have some pride left. Otherwise lack of pride will be India’s fall.

5. Do not overtly focus on any one or two bowlers. Only to win the toss, bat first and have another Vaas nightmare. Be wary of Vaas and the other quick.

6. No. 5 holds true for batsman. For starters, try and remember the name of Warnapura. Then, have a plan for him. Use Sehwag’s input for Dilshan. Phone Yuvraj for inputs on Sangakkara and Jayawardene, call Dhoni for any dope on Murali.

7. If the game’s flow is too uninspiring, create tension – often the only inspiration for India. Think the Lankans are actually the Aussies. Use Bhajji’s linguistic skills if nothing else.

8. Think like the Australians. But better still, play like them. Look back and learn that Sri Lanka like most teams tend to play one good innings and falter. Look back at the last Lanka-Australia series in the emerald isle – learn that a good second innings can topple the Lankans. So, try and extend the game to the 2nd innings, fifth day. Stretch yourself. Stretch the Lankans.

9. Realise that No. 8 was pre-Mendis. Do not fear him. It shows. It showed in Colombo.

10. Play like your life depends on it. Because it does.

16 comments:

RS said...

Inspired tactics!

No dope from Ganguly on Mendis - none gathered?

Soulberry said...

Well written Gaurav and I agree mostly. India simply lacks the bowling nous in Lanka, and also the firepower. So it will not matter what the batsmen do or not do. India cannot take ten wickets in a match...maybe the series..in Sri Lanka.

I don't expect miracles to happen. I don't expect the bowlers to change their spots overnight.

Naked Cricket said...

rs - how about a rss feed to the team.

Naked Cricket said...

sb - am very curious how lanka sustains their influence across two innings. Against Oz last time (in Lanka itself) they caved it, after gaining good 1st innings leads. Sure that was oz, and there was no Mendis, but Lanka's batting nucleus is still Mahela and Kumara.
How about 3 seamers + Kumble?

Naked Cricket said...

sb - "caved in"

vmminerva said...

NC, Yeah man! You've inspired me. Point #4 is priceless and true! There won't be any pride left to play for, if they lose this one.

Naked Cricket said...

vmm - england and india appear similar in their futility. wonder who our collingwood will be?
cheers!

UTP said...

I love Point 3...that is true test cricket...really looking forward for much more...from the best spin playing batting lineup in the world...

Straight Point said...

at least sehwag and gambhir seems to listen to you dude...

that's what sehwag can do to you...if only he didn't had brain fade in first innings...

its even more criminal when you are at peak of your powers...to gift it away coz you never know one or two soft dismissals and lo...the touch is gone...

Naked Cricket said...

Cheers utp!
I'd say best spin playing opener. The real battle starta once the middle order and the 2 Ms jostle it out. right now it's freedom.

Naked Cricket said...

SP - after the crap he went thru, you'd think he'd be ready for a scrap - when the gng gets tough. Not that he doesn't have a tight defence vs both spin and pace. Just chooses not to use it.

I enjoyed some of his tight bat-pad stuck together defence shots to the spinners - for me, that's what should make the Lankans sweat. And that six off Mendis.

Btw are Delhi and Galle in the same neighbourhood -rain go away!

Straight Point said...

ah...but for that rain...

no wonder sl team saying 'galle' 'galle'...

Naked Cricket said...

SP - Galle Galle was funny, but now the joke's on the troubled threesome.

A Bisht said...

very good post.

Naked Cricket said...

thanks a bunch AB!

Wasim said...

The most important point give some respect to Mendis, read his grip take the unpredictability out of the equation and then play him like any other spinner.