Sunday, January 22, 2012


A five-day match. The finals of your country's premier domestic cricket competition. Team A bats first and scores a mammoth 621 runs for their 10 wickets in 245 overs by tea time of Day 3. After the tea break, the weary batsmen of Team B come out to bat. They have been on the field for a good part of 3 days, and have watched the opposition batsmen pummel their team all through that period. Soon, they lose their top order and are staring down at 24 for 3.

After brief recovery partnerships and some minor contribution revolving around a 150 made by their No. 4 batsman, Team B manage to reach 295 before being all out in 102.4 overs. They are 326 runs behind Team A's mammoth run tally, and there are potentially 100 more overs remaining in the game - 90% of them on a 5th day track.

What should a captain be doing in this scenario? Simple logic would suggest that the captain of Team A should be enforcing a follow on and the captain of Team B should start preparing his speech to be delivered as the runners-up in the tournament, explaining this loss and reflecting on glorious moments in the campaign!

Is there a chance... any chance... that Team A could lose by enforcing the follow on? Can Team B score at 8 runs per over for 60 overs in their second innings, and then get Team A all out for less than 150 runs in about 35 overs in the final session of the match?

In a match where 20 wickets have taken almost 4 days and 347.4 overs to arrive, can Team A lose their 10 in just one session of play of 35 overs? In a match where 916 runs have been scored at a rate of 2.63 runs per over, can Team B really score at 8 runs per over on a 5th day track to set up a score to bowl at?

Any person who knows a little bit about First Class cricket will also know that these above questions should not even enter the mind of the captain of Team A. There is just one thing to be done - enforce the follow on, dismiss Team B in the second innings, and win the match by an innings and some runs to seal the title match in all pomp and glory!

Sadly, the defending Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan had the opportunity of Team A earlier today at Chennai, but decided that making Tamil Nadu (the Team B) bat again was not worth the risk (which somehow they deemed existed) of losing the match!

When a team that has a chance to seal a thumping outright win, with virtually no risk of losing that game, goes for a draw instead, it is a pity that such a game is called "cricket". Rajasthan got a lot of criticism for their go-slow approach to batting over almost 3 days, but a lot of it was unfounded. The system of Ranji Trophy is such that they were just playing for the best chance of a win. But surely, no better chance existed than enforcing a follow on?

Would it not have been nice for Rajasthan to reply back to all those critics with a thumping innings win over Tamil Nadu? Would a win not taste sweeter if it is an innings win rather than a win by first innings lead? I have absolutely no idea what made Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar and his team's management personnel decide against the option of enforcing a follow on, but I would dearly love to know a reason! I would dearly love to see how can one offer a justification for such a decision by keeping a straight face?

I had tweeted towards the end of Day 3 about how a win, if not outright, would seem hollow, given the position that Rajasthan had found themselves in! It so happens that I have lost quite a bit of respect for a team that will tomorrow be crowned as a 2-time running champions of India's First Class cricket!

1 comment:

Golandaaz said...

It is.because you realize.why the.IPL is so.successful.