Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 2nd day January 4, 2012

India wait for a declaration, again

India in the field are quicker than others to step back and hope the batsmen bail them out in the second dig, and wait for the declaration

That bad old Indian feeling of waiting for the declaration is back. In fact it never went away, even when the team was doing well and rising towards No. 1 or defending that ranking. It happened against South Africa in Nagpur, against New Zealand in Napier, against Sri Lanka in Galle, against South Africa in Centurion and against England in all four Tests. More than any other team, India come out looking bad - it is a matter of relative speaking, really, because teams don't come out looking good after such days.

It is a difficult time to be in the field when your batting has failed, and the opposition can bat freely because of the meagreness of your total. At some point or the other, every team has to face these situations in Test cricket. With modern scoring rates, you tend to come out having conceded close to 350 runs on an average. Some teams deal with these days better than others. India isn't one of those teams. They don't do this well; they have never done this well.

They have five fielders who aren't particularly agile. Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma and MS Dhoni are about the only fielders you want on the field in such situations. Ishant is the surprise inclusion there, but whatever results and despite not being a natural athlete, he is one man who always wants the ball to come to him, the one man always ready to charge in. India aren't going to ever behave like New Zealand and South Africa do in such circumstances, with men diving all over the place, and making it tough for the opposition to get quick runs. This is a handicap India have worked around for some time now, but it becomes exaggerated when waiting for a declaration. And this really is the best possible XI they can field right now, in that you can't think of a more agile man who can replace the other five who are slow in the field.

The India bowlers aren't really good control bowlers, except when it's spinners at home or reverse-swing at home, when they can choke things up even when the side is down. And they have come back from such situations, but those cases are fast getting consigned to the distant past. The inconsistent bowling away from home also translates into their captain spreading the fields sooner than he should. You cannot fault the effort of the bowlers, as R Ashwin kept repeating at the post-day press conference, but India are quicker than others to throw the concept of slowing runs down through wickets to the wind, which is a combination of an inconsistent attack and captaincy.

It is a matter of finer details if you want to see when teams go on the defensive on such days, but it is an important detail. Ashwin came on to bowl at 3 for 99, with Australia still 92 behind and the fourth-wicket partnership reading 62. He began with a deep point and a deep midwicket. Ashwin said he did so because there were few runs to play with, and he didn't want to give away boundaries before he settled down to a proper line and length. That says a lot about the mindset of the side.

"What else do you do with 190 in the pocket?" Ashwin said. "You'll have to save every run possible. Supposing you get two or three wickets later on, and someone is having a good spell, we have those runs to play with later. That has got to be the only idea. It's common sense. Nothing else."

All said and done, today was hardly surprising or sinful. If something on a cricket field is serious enough to be termed a sin, it was committed yesterday, when the famed batting line-up was bowled out for 191 after choosing to bat first. And India in the field - not the bowling unit exclusively, but the team overall - are quicker than others to step back and hope the batsmen bail them out in the second dig. And wait for the declaration.

That's what India did today. The declaration will eventually arrive sometime tomorrow. Bowling Australia out now will not be much better either. Some time tomorrow, the behemoth will be asked to start rolling. If it doesn't, it will never win a series in Australia.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prachi on January 7, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    @SirViv1973 and others - Do you people now understand why we Indians do not want Dhoni as a captain in our test team? He does NOT lead by example in tests but has great ability to lead as an example in ODIs. By the way, seems to be common theme for lots of non-Indian supporters but INDIAN MEDIA is obsessed with Sachin's ton, not fans. If you see 1 or 2 fans here and there comment about it does not make it majority. Please get that out of your heads. We DO NOT care for Sachin's 100 especially in a losing cause. Winning in Aus or outside of subcontinents is more important. If you can be bullies at home, then next goal is to be good competitors abroad but you can't expect yourself to be great abroad if you can't win at home. Yes India dominate in India but so does recent Eng and Australia of the past. I don't understand why its such a huge deal if Indians do something but not if any other countries do it. Why isn't Pak, Sri Lanka, South Africa dominant in their home grounds if its easy?

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    Definitely India will loose 4-0 , Ishanth is nt fully fit n not able to take wickets in England and here also...Sehwag, Gambir, Sachin are strugling for centuries..... Suddenly by alll these effects made Dravid n Laxman also lost touch very badly.. Dhoni no more can take responsibility(taking second ball single n giving strike to no.11 batsmen). Only remedy to get boosted is to Get Irfan Pathan out there in Eleven ASAP instead of Kohli.....

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    Clarke u r grt.. 2 and half days left, ur just 5 away from australian record , and 75 from world record . Your decision is a great lesson to Dhoni and Indian fans who pleading for tendulkar century .

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 2:41 GMT

    @ rajaram no offence intended either . it was just painful to see this Indian team has no intention to win a session let alone a test match . once again good to see you being positive. cheers

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    @ Rajaram Janardhanan mate i like your optimism .But in that series Laxman was in terrific form and he was 57 not out in the first innings . Besides he found an able ally in Dravid and the lead was 274 . But here the lead is above 400 thus far and am pretty much sure that the these guys are not going give us anything less than 500+ . Laxman's sores in this series have all been single digit ones and Dravid looked like anything but a batsman and aussies have sorted them out to an extent . Mate there is no shame in accepting defeat at the hands of a team which has played far superior cricket and the hunger to perform is missing in most of the batsmen except Tendulkar and to an extent Ashwin . So just come out of the past glory and accept the reality. cheers

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    India! Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached

  • Anthony on January 5, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    Thank you Chapelau. Finally someone brings up a great point. Why is it only Tendulkar mentioned when bringing up the greatest of all time (after Bradman of course). Jacque Kallis now over 12,000 runs with a better ave. (56.24 compared to SRT's 56.00) AND 271 wickets. Think of how far ahead Tendulkar is in total runs purely because he debuted so young. How many decent teams can afford to debut a 17 yo?

  • Nageshwara on January 5, 2012, 1:53 GMT

    My prediction for this match - India will be bowled out for less than 200 and it will be a shameful innings defeat. Next two matches - India is certain to lose. It is a 4-0 humiliating loss. We always refuse to learn.

  • Nageshwara on January 5, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    Indians never take hard decisions. I think its time for Gambhir, Kohli and Laxman to go. I wonder why Rahne wasnt picked up for the opening slot. Similarly, why Kohli is preferred over Rohit. Rohit Sharma is determined and persists himself at the crease when things are falling apart.

  • Andrew on January 5, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    @Full-Blooded-Wallop - LOL! As at Lunch on Day 3, there is about 240 overs left in the match. Oz will bat till around Tea time, & have a lead close to 600. India will have to bat for around 200 overs to save the match, it is highly unlikely Oz will even have to think about batting again. Strong chance that India will surrender, particularly if Sehwag fails, they all rollover, with Dravid or Dhoni being the last man standing. Strong chance of a record defeat for India. Pattinson, Siddle & Hilfy will be nice & rested! @Biggus - Tubby Taylor is my pick as the best captain I've ever seen, an honourable mention to the Black caps Fleming. I think Clarke could match them!

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