Two matches

As I type, England are 213/3 in pursuit of 500, with 36 overs to go. A result seems unlikely.

Much verbiage has been expended on whether Dravid was right not to enforce a follow-on yesterday (one reason seems to have been a strain suffered by Zaheer Khan), and on why he made such a laboured 12 off 96 balls (it was something like 5 off 80 balls at one time), when the hope would have been to get some quick runs on the board and give themselves time to bowl England out.

But I got reminded of another test, over three years ago: this one, at Multan.

Then, India declared their first innings closed at 675 on the second day, and Pakistan faced 16 overs that day without losing a wicket. Here, India were all out for 664 on the second day, and England faced 8 overs, losing one wicket.

Then, Pakistan ended their first innings early on the fourth day, for 407 (a deficit of 268). Here, England ended their first innings early on the fourth day, for 345 (a deficit of 319).

Then, the captain, Rahul Dravid, enforced the follow-on; here, he did not.

Then, Dravid declared the first innings closed when Sachin Tendulkar was on 194 and there were still 16 overs to go in the day; the reason for denying Tendulkar his 200 was, reportedly, a lack of urgency shown by him. Here, Dravid did not declare the first innings closed (a decision which allowed Kumble a well-deserved century); India were eventually all out with 8 overs to go in the day. In the second innings, Dravid’s sense of urgency was exhibited by his 12 off 96 balls. (Granted, India were 10 for 3 at one point. But they did have a lead of over 300, so they were really 329 for 3 in effect.)

Then, India won by an innings. Here, a result looks rather unlikely.

Basically, then India wanted to win; here India wanted not to lose.

Nothing much wrong in that, but let’s not have fancy talk about positive cricket, wanting to win, and so on.

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