“For Indian cricket, it will be a huge thing and we have done it before and we can do it again, but this culture is what is dear to me and I will do everything in my ability, even if you lose a Test match. I want us to go for the win and not surrender and try to save a Test match on day three or day four, that for me is just not acceptable”
These were the words of the Indian skipper when interviewed by Dinesh Karthik on Sky Sports about the winning culture of India. However, there are situations like the third Test where India has to fight out for a draw rather than becoming a mockery and Kohli might as well be wary of that. India are already trailing by 345 runs and three days are still left in this Test match.
Dawid Malan in his press conference said, “I would be surprised if we declare overnight as we will look to put up as many runs as possible and that would be ideal for us to put the scoreboard pressure on them. The wicket still looks good to bat on, so the longer we bat, there will be more wear-and-tear”.
Assuming England will bat the first hour to whack around and propel the lead to 400, India will be tasked to bat for three days or 200-plus overs and gain a lead of 150 runs.
In the entire history of cricket in England, the most overs batted by a team irrespective of the innings number is 335.2 overs by the hosts in 1938. After filtering further to third innings, the most overs batted by a team is 258 overs, which was also by England in 1957 in Birmingham. However, this century and the band of batsmen in the modern era are much more into scoring runs at brisk pace rather than a blockathon. This is the polar opposite of what the situation demands and is a prime reason why none of the teams have batted for more than 200 overs in this century. As for India, the most overs they have batted in the third innings of a Test was in 1967 at the same venue – 209.2.
India are known for their thaumaturgical performances in Tests. Let it be Port of Spain 1976 or Kolkata 2001 or Chennai 2008 or even the Gabba 2021, when India are playing, miracles do happen. Howbeit, India needs a monumental effort. Something like the Kolkata one, where India were able to bat nearly 180 overs and score 600 odd runs. But, the question is who is going to be the VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid of this Test?
THE BIG THREE NEEDS TO PULL UP THEIR SOCKS
Now that India almost know their task, each of the top seven batsmen should have a target in mind, either balls or runs. If India are to bat for 200 overs, that makes 1200 balls and each batsman has to bat an average of 171 balls. Cheteshwar Pujara thrives in such situations. Whereas, Kohli is a batsman who believes more in scoring opportunities rather than blocking. Ajinkya Rahane is the most versatile among the three.Speaking of spending time at crease, Pujara’s longest innings in Test career came in Ranchi when he batted for 525 balls. Whereas, the most balls Rahane and Kohli have faced in an innings are 388 and 366 respectively. There is a catch, if Kohli bats that long, a big score is guaranteed. But, even for that, Kohli needs to overcome his current lean patch. In fact, that is a challenge for all three.
IS THIS INNINGs PUJARA’s LAST BREATHER?
More than the win or draw, Pujara and to some extent Rahane’s career are standing on a thin line. Yes, it was Pujara’s gritty innings that helped India draw at Sydney and win at Gabba but just eating up balls is not the only way to survive in this Indian team.
In the year 2021, Pujara has averaged just 27.2 in 17 innings with four half-centuries. He has not scored a hundred since his 193 in the Sydney Test in 2019, which was 35 innings ago. After his 73 in the first Test in Chennai in 2021, Pujara has crossed the 20-run mark only twice in 12 innings. All-in-all, a huge hike awaits India on the third day. Every Indian will be hoping for rain, but no luck with that as well in this Test. The remaining three days are expected to be overcast with a spell of sunshine.