" Cricket Etcetera was voted as the Best Cricket Blog by Google during the World Cup 2007 "

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When should India declare? (India vs Australia, 2nd Test)

India vs Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali
Scorecard at stumps on Day 3

India 1st Innings: 469 all out, Australia 1st Innings: 268 all out
India 2nd Innings: 100 without loss

With Stowage and Gambhir having already added 100 runs at just over 4 rpo and both still at the crease, India are already 301 runs ahead of Australia and well poised to go to Kotla with an important lead of 1-0. But the important decision tomorrow for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be - when should India declare?

Arguments are flying thick and fast that India shouldn't get defensive and go for an aggressive declaration, Australia style. But is that required? I was following the post-match discussion on Neo-Cricket, where Arun Lal was trying to make a very pertinent point which unfortunately no one on the panel or in the audience was bothering to understand. Why Lal was against the idea of declaring at lunch was very logical - that would leave Australia with 150 overs and a little over 400 to get. If Australia bat out 150 overs, they would reach 400; in fact they would reach 400 in about 140 overs. That means '10 overs are wasted' - neither India needs them, nor Australia. What that means that India must bundle out Australia in under 140 overs. So wouldn't it be more sensible to bat for another 10 overs, get about 50 more runs and put the match completely out of Australia's reach? That may sound like a typical Indian defensive stance but it's not - it only allows Dhoni to give Mishra and Harbhajan that much more chance of taking a wicket by employing a more attacking field. Surely you do not want a situation where India has to go on the defensive by the end of day 4, were Australia to reach a score of 180 for the loss of 2 or 3 wickets.

Here's a table I have created which clearly illustrates that '5 overs after lunch' or 35 overs into tomorrow is when the ideal declaration time would be. Of course, Dhoni could employ someone to create a more dynamic 'excel sheet' to help him decide, factoring in a few more situations, mainly pertaining to the run-rate scenario.

Assuming India's Expected Run Rate on Day 4 is 4.5 rpo No. of overs Left Lead Target for Australia Assuming Australia chases at 3 rpo

Overs reqd to achieve target
Start of Day 180 301 302 101
At Lunch 150 436 437 146
5 overs more 145 458.5 460 153

No comments: