Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
There must be a repository of catchphrases hidden away in some secret location, known only to cricketers. Where captains and coaches and batsmen and bowlers convene to decide which shall be in fashion. 'Playing your natural game' is perennially in vogue. Like blue jeans. 'Expressing ourselves with freedom' is a new favourite. Like torn blue jeans.
India have selected five batsmen who can decimate oppositions if let loose. With an entire day lost to rain in the only Test against Bangladesh in Fatullah, that is exactly what the situation demanded. More so considering a draw would cause them to slip to fourth in the Test rankings. The team's need was clear.
But what if it clashes with a batsman's? Failure to post consistent and impactful scores could leave one on the bench, especially with India's five-bowler strategy,. And if the replacement hits stride, the wait could be endless because all of India's scheduled Tests this season are in subcontinent conditions, which usually offer a great bounty of runs.
None of them though thought about personal gains, or losses. Shikhar Dhawan was smelling a maiden double-century when he was dismissed. Ajinkya Rahane fell on 98. Rohit Sharma walked in with an average in the 20s over his last 16 innings. Virat Kohli barely gave himself the time to get in and perhaps chase a fifth century in as many Tests.
None of them curbed themselves even when Bangladesh's spinners found appreciable turn. Setting up the first innings, posting a large enough total, and chase a result was a high priority.
"It all depends on the situation," M Vijay explained. "It demanded us to be positive so that we can put as many runs on the board as possible and put them under pressure. That was our primary target, and I thought we achieved it. Rahane was selfless and he played a brilliant knock as well in the middle. As a team we are doing really well."
Another creditable aspect of India's urgency was how well they timed it. The morning session fetched 159 runs in 37 overs. The first seven of those yielded only 18. Dhawan and Vijay spent that time resetting themselves. They checked if their defence was in order, fine-tuned their judgment outside off and tested their ability to pick gaps through singles. There was only one boundary in this period.
Like how fishermen give a little slack to lull their catch before reeling it in, India went slow to get their own quarry - lots of runs before the thunderstorms that were forecast encroach. Fatullah's rain had carved 124 overs out of the Test when play resumed this morning. India began on an overnight 239 with the sun peeking through ever-present clouds. They would have wanted to bat once, bat big and still keep a few minutes handy before stumps to go all out against the Bangladesh batsmen. Hence the run-rate was maintained above four.
But what do you do when wickets are falling? Dhawan felt good enough to start hitting in the air. A chip skipped away to the midwicket fence took him to 173, his next attempt took the leading edge and handed Bangladesh their first wicket. He might easily have knocked the ball around and looked for the personal milestone. He didn't.
The dilemma might have been especially sharp for Rohit Sharma. He had to fill-in for a natural No. 3 in Cheteshwar Pujara. When he walked out in the 68th over, in addition to manning an unfamiliar position, the clouds overhead congregated into one foreboding grey mass. Rain was coming, which meant he had to start hitting straight away. Besides that, his place in the Test side isn't quite sealed yet.
Calls for the axe might already be up after he made only 6; calls that don't take into account that India were playing one-day cricket to try and beat the monsoon and win this Test. Rohit trusted a strength - the inside out drive through cover - but couldn't connect. Shakib Al Hasan nailed the stumps. Had he been as gung-ho with India 5 for 1, criticism would have been warranted. At 291 for 1, it was a case of a calculated shot that just didn't pan out.
Rahane may have cemented his place in the XI but he came out to face Jubair Hossain who was in the middle of an excellent spell. That he dismissed Virat Kohli for 14 hiked the bowler's confidence further. The googlies were hard to read. The legspinners drifted, gripped and turned. The flight tempted the drive and India needed to convert as many run-scoring opportunities as they could.
So Rahane went for it. He scored 28 off 28 balls against Jubair. Increased his severity against Shakib - 45 runs in 39 balls - with eight fours. Two of that tally came off back-to-back deliveries as he hurtled to 98.
His partnership with Vijay had steadied a minor wobble and fetched India 114 runs at 5.2 per over. Ordinarily, flooring the accelerator would not have been needed. Except here, play had already been interrupted due to rain and further breaks were almost certain. So, despite the over having cost eight runs, Rahane saw one that was only fractionally short and went for the pull. He couldn't get low enough and his middle stump took the hit.
The captain and coach's unequivocal backing is vital to sustain such an approach. Kohli and team director Ravi Shastri are a good pairing in that regard. They've talked the talk and so far they've walked the walk.
Bangladesh vs India
India tour of Bangladesh