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India too cautious: Vettori
Faisal Shariff |
October 19, 2003 21:24 IST
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"We're here to win. I am not sure if India is," said New Zealand's left arm spinner Daniel Vettori at stumps on day four of the second Test at Mohali.
For the fourth consecutive day the Kiwis laid into the Indians, taking jibes at their strategy, pitches and attitude.
Lou Vincent criticized the flatness of the wicket, Craig McMillan pointed out that India's overseas record is abysmal and the team is unable to compete overseas. And on day four, Vettori hinted that India's strategy for the Mohali Test was too defensive.
"India took it too cautiously. In the end they still did not manage to place themselves in a comfortable position," he said.
Ever since the Kiwis landed in the country skipper Stephen Fleming has been advising India on how to compete at the international level and the nature of our wickets.
The intrinsic worth of all these statements is not the issue. The issue is the failure of the Indian team to throw back a rejoinder.
We played on worse wickets in New Zealand late last year without much success, but all through the four days of the second Test no Indian player, not even stand-in skipper Raul Dravid, who is easily the most articulate spokesperson for the team, bothered to speak to the media.
Agreed that the main battles are fought on the field and not off it, but it is the mental edge that matters.
· In the Ahmedabad Test, India were on top in 12 of the 15 sessions.
· In Mohali, the third day's play was easily the best cricket one saw throughout the series, with Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra launching a scathing counter-attack on the Kiwi bowlers in the two sessions and knocking off 200 runs by the end of day's play.
If India are on the back foot in this Test, it is because the Kiwis have played better than them. But their best is still not good enough to beat India in a Test.
Vettori, who bowled a marathon 45-over spell today to finish with two wickets, including the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar, felt India played too cautiously and were probably not interested in a result for this game. He hinted that a declaration would have to come into play if the Kiwis can quickly pick up the remaining four Indian wickets in the morning session on day five.
What's the Kiwi plan?
If New Zealand do manage to bowl out India in the morning session and manage to keep a lead of 200 runs, we could be in for an interesting game.
New Zealand's first innings score is 630 and they lead India by 240 runs at stumps on day four.
If they pick the remaining four wickets and concede another 40 runs in the first 20 overs on the fifth morning, they will lead India by 200 runs.
Having used up 20 of the 90 overs to be bowled daily, the Kiwis can crack another 70-80 runs in 10-12 overs and declare, setting India a luring target of 270-280 to get in about 55-60 overs.
Sounds far-fetched but the Kiwi skipper is known to have declared in the past despite conceding a lead to set up a result, and that too against the Aussies, in the 2001 series.
At Brisbane, in the first Test, Stephen Fleming declared for 287 after the Aussies piled up 486 runs in the first innings. The Aussie batted and scored 84 in 14 overs and set New Zealand a target of 284 in 57 overs to get. The Kiwis got 274 before Glen McGrath bowled wide off the stump and avoided defeat.
At Perth, the Kiwis scored 534 and bowled the Aussies out for 351, taking a 183-run lead and then declared for 256, setting the Aussie 440 runs to get in 110 overs. The Test was drawn but not before a scintillating 83 by Adam Gilchrist, as Australians finished the Test at 381-7.
As of now the Kiwis believe -- as Vettori pointed out – that they have set the Test up in a way that only one side has a chance of winning it.
Will Indian make a match of this Test or will they continue to score 183 runs all day and present a poor case for the survival of Test cricket?