India’s head coach Rahul Dravid on Tuesday said the repeated failure of his batsmen in the ‘third’ innings of a Test match is a matter of concern and he will sit down with the national selectors to resolve the issue.
Under Dravid’s tutelage, the Indian team has lost its last three overseas Test matches – two in South Africa and one in Birmingham. She failed to defend the target of 378 runs in the recently concluded match against England.
India scored 266 in their second innings at Johannesburg, 198 in Cape Town and 245 in Birmingham, effectively the third innings of a Test match.
In all these three games, India failed to defend goals like 240, 212 and now 378. When asked how he plans to analyse, the Indian coach gave a glimpse of his comical side.
“Cricket is so much that we don’t have time to reflect. In two days, we will talk to you about something completely different,” Dravid said, referring to the T20 International series starting in less than 48 hours.
“… And why are we not able to take 10 wickets in the fourth innings.
India play their last six matches of the current World Test Championship cycle in the subcontinent and Dravid plans to sit down with Chetan Sharma (currently chairman of selectors in England) to analyze the shortcomings.
“Now the next six Test matches are in the sub-continent (2 in Bangladesh and 4 in India), and our focus will be on those remaining games, but obviously, the coaches and selectors will sit down and analyze this loss.
“This review happens after every game and so when we next visit the army, we are well equipped to deal with it,” he said.
Various reasons for losing sustained intensity. The current team is losing steam during the third and fourth innings of a match and this can be due to several factors, including the fitness of the bowlers with the passage of time.
“It’s something that we need to look at and work on. We have been very good over the years and have been able to take those wickets, but yeah we haven’t been able to do that in the last few months,’ he said. Accepted,’ Dravid said.
Then he broadly listed the factors.
“There can be a variety of factors – maybe we need to maintain that intensity and maybe we need to maintain that level of fitness, maybe that level of performance through a Test match. Keep it up.” He repeatedly said that batting is a matter of concern.
“Also in all these Test matches, the batting has not been good even in the third innings. So both in South Africa and here we have started well but haven’t finished well. We definitely need to improve it further.”
The second spinner was not necessary for the conditions. Ravichandran Ashwin’s absence was debated but Dravid defended the team’s strategy.
Dravid said, “It is not easy to get a player like Ash out in a Test match, but when we looked at the wicket on the first day, it had a uniform cover of grass and we felt that it has a lot for the fast bowlers. Explain the status of the team.
“Also, if you see, the wicket didn’t turn much for Jack Leach or Ravi Jadeja, who bowled in the match. Weather also played a role as the first three days didn’t have long phases of sunshine. Perhaps, it didn’t turn as we expected it to. Dravid said that everything looks different but the reality is a little different.
“It would have been really nice to have a second spinner, but it wasn’t enough to justify the inclusion,” he added.
Don’t know about ‘Bazzball’ but England have been exceptional. Dravid smiled when asked about the popular lingo ‘bazzball’ about Brendon McCullum’s positive impact on England’s Test batting last month.
“I don’t know what it is. The cricket he chased for four Tests, chasing in the fourth innings like this doesn’t happen very often in this country, but the kind of cricket you play depends on the players and their form. When you have players of form, you can play positive (cricket).
no excuse that this is a one time test
When the series was halted 2-1 last year due to the COVID outbreak in the Indian camp, Dravid was still the head of the NCA and by the time it ended, he was the head coach. Did the one-off test become a hindrance and hamper the preparations.
“Look, I don’t want to make excuses. I wasn’t part of the team then (in 2021). India were on a roll back then and England might have been in a slightly different position when the series was going on.
“They came here now after three consecutive wins against New Zealand and we had a long gap between Test cricket and that’s why Test cricket is tough,” he said. So no excuses, you got to perform over the course of five days and they did that and we didn’t, they deserved to win Test matches,” he concluded.