My hearty congratulations to the Indian Cricket Team for winning the three test series in the cradle of Cricket. For the Indian Cricket fan, I have only my condolences to offer. Why? Read on....
What business did Mr. Rahul Dravid have to throw away his chance at a very possible win in the third and final test at the Oval? Why did he not enforce the follow on and go for the kill? A 2-0 series victory is better than 1-0.
After reams after limitless reams written on this subject here are my two cents worth.
Well, experts have asked this question in newspapers, on TV and on the Radio. Rahul might have a perfectly plausible theory on the "tired" bowlers and the "body language" of the team. Gavaskar, Shastri and a few other International cricketers that I heard on this topic were very blunt about what they thought about the decision!
Rahul went for safety and that's that. He was maybe afraid that England might erase the deficit, put on a few more runs and then make India bat on day 5 against the guile of Monty on a dusty & crumbling Oval pitch.
Would an Andre Nel or a Shane Watson not have jumped at the chance of going back and attacking a team 319 runs behind? What would Australia or South Africa or for that matter even Sri Lanka have done in the same spot? Enforce or not Enforce? England were down and out! Their morale was low. The Indians had bowled for just one day! What could have made them so tired? We had more bowling options than England did. Tendulkar was spinning the ball well. Ganguly was bowling well wicket-to-wicket! You had three quickies and one specialist spinner! Did Monty, Anderson and Tremlett not bowl their heart out on the fag end of day two? It was baffling to see India come out to Bat.
OK! even if we accept the logic of not enforcing the follow on, what was happening when we were batting? Rahul scored the third slowest strike rate of his entire career! The focus was making enough runs so that England cannot reach it. The batsmen did not seem in any hurry to pile on some quick runs and have more overs to bowl at the English. In the bargain, I feel India lost the plot. I don't know about Rahul but I definitely felt the pinch when the last session on Day 5 was going India's way.
I guess winning a Series has become more important than winning a game. I am sure it was the other way around in the good old days. Winning a series was incidental to you playing some great games and winning them.
Why do we accept this mediocre and risk averse approach from our National Cricket Team. On the eve of our 60th Independence Day I pray for all Indians to be blessed with some more gut and the freedom from being afraid of failure.