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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rahul's Last Stand

While people unaware of the title's significance should not mistake this as Dravid's 'perhaps' final stand in the company of a quick scoring Ganguly in India's second innings at The Oval, others who are aware of the undertone reference to Gen James Custer's Last Stand must realise there is an inversion of application involved here. The historical Custer took a stand against the Indians and wiped them out in an American version of Jallianwallah Bagh. Rahul the Indian (East, though) took his brave stand to wipe out the Whites (represented by English) in the recently concluded Test Series, thus bridging a relative history apparent only to crazies like me! Another metaphorical post-colonial piece of sorts! But, let's to cricket...

A lot of hue and cry - as the cliche goes - went into the making of an Indian second innings declaration at The Oval recently during the 3rd n-Power Pataudi Trophy India-England Test Series. Dravid was severally accused uniformly about an erroneous declaration tactic: it came late; later than it must have been; in the first place, he must have had the English to follow-on; an act of cowardice, etc etc.

Chandu Borde - the naam ka waste Manager cum Coach of sorts - was quick to the cover up at the press conference at the end of day 4, where England went back to the Pavilion and to nightly hibernation at 56 for no loss of wicket, secure in the feeling, at the worst, they can't lose this series. The English perhaps believe in the dictum of saving the battle even if the war is lost. Ah! that English sense of Honour and Pyrrhic victory!! Anyway, Mr. Borde quickly refuted the criticisms and allegations and accusation levelled at Dravid's decision saying the team was only ensuring that absolute no-loss situation first before anything else.

I wondered for a moment! If the same decision had been taken by a Mark Taylor or Mike Atherton or Nasser Hussain or even Ricky Ponting, how the Western media and pundits of the game would have applied plaudits that defy all logic and common sense in the name of sportsmanship and in accordance of bravery in the confines of the laws and the spirit of the game once played by the several Sirs Play a Lots of English and Aussie shores. Bah! Humbug! Nonsense and Crap! If Taylor does it, it is sporting declaration. If Dravid does it, unanimous cudgelling. The shrinking hypocrisy of it. But what else to expect, it is an Englishman's game!

The point is this. Even the fecking Indian press, especially the Indian television news channels that shamelessly have been tirelessly working proudly as foreign channel tie-ups, were bent on blackening Dravid and squeezing every bit of public sentiment and hysteria to defame Dravid, not in the interests of the game they seek to preserve through the several well-intended (or so we must believe) debates and big fights they initiate in special 1 hour slots everytime India takes a bashing. (It is another matter that if India does not get a bashing elsewhere, they will concoct one). Actually, it was a very brilliant tactical work by Rahul Dravid. The backdrop is this: no-one has successfully chased large scores at The Oval; the fifth day is infamous for its spin assistance, according to the pundits as well as the retro-statisticians of the game. And there was the risk that England, after the realisation that if they applied themselves a bit more (and some timely assistance and bursary from the umpires), they can emulate India's first essay big score, thus bat for two full days and save the test. Now, looking at how they played and almost scored 400 runs without losing out wickets much, they could have, had Dravid taken the chance to impose follow-on. What if they had scored 600 playing out a whole lot and Panesar & Anderson came back (with assistance from umpires of course) to bundle India out in the second innings. We have crumbled before. The chances of India crumbling on the 5th day to the swing and life of Anderson and Tremlett as well as spin of Panesar must have come into Rahul Dravid and the other think-tanks' calculation. And thus, it is a very wise decision to let India bat inspite of the temptation of imposing follow-on to attempt an innings win... or a 100+ target chase in the fourth innings. Also, with Zaheer nursing a leg-strain and Sreesanth not being able to find his rhythm, it was the best decision a captain would have taken. So stop taking about it, whiners and whingers of Indian cricket.

It was an absolutely wise Last Stand the Indian took against the Whites and ensured an Indian victory.


abhorigine said...

I agree with you. Not only are the media quick to pounce on Dravid's mistakes, very little praise has come his way for turning his team around, even managing the egos of his senior players to knit a winning combination. The same people sang Ganguly's praises when Dravid played a major role in all the victories under the lefthander's captaincy, even captaining India to a victory in Pakistan in Ganguly's absence.

Srini said...

Wise stand indeed (sir) KK! The media, as it always does, will keep creating a huge hue and cry if we win, if we lose, if we draw or if we tie... Two things: one Rahul is a soft-spoken man and I am wondering how a more pugnacious captian-player-man like Sourav may have responded to the former cricketers-media firm! Secondly, as you had rightly pointed out, 'yeh India hey yaar..." It is an Englishman's game... where Matt Prior will crow all day... Pietersen will put jellybeans on the pitch... and Ricky "Punter" Ponting will call Gavaskar a detractor because Gavaskar talked about something the Aussies can never have for peanuts or three world cups - decent behaviour. We do it; it goes to the match referee. An Aussie does it "gamesmanship meit!"

As you can see, I am seething with fury... but at the end of the day, I guess it is still an anglo-, white-centric world!

Nice post again, as usual!

(Aside: I have an update as well... a collection of lines from the recent past... do drop by if time and convenience permit!)