In a world where avoiding defeat takes precedence over claiming victory, setting the opposition just 250 runs to make in 43 overs is a challenge that demands resolve of steel.
It is the kind of challenge that gives everybody a fair chance. Above all, it is a big gamble, which showed sportsmanship of the highest order by Rahul Dravid.
With three inexperienced bowlers, and an out-of-form paceman, and no guarantee about Kumble becoming the saviour having just recovered from fever, it must have taken tremendous courage to set such a challenge for Bangladesh. A challenge , which required them to score at less than six runs per over.
Imagine, India could have even lost the test. And now, imagine the reaction in India!
Conceded, Bangladesh is no Australia. Still 5.81 runs per over is not an impossible target for any team. Stranger things have happened in the game of cricket. And Bangladeshis do dare to dream! Didn’t they in the World Cup!
Despite the early dismissal of Nafees to a poor shot, which should have put them on the back foot, Bashar and Omar decided to take the challenge head-on. They kept their composure while milking Zaheer and RP for runs, showing the kind of character that Whatmore has put into his team.
To their credit, Bangladeshi’s were able to keep pace with a run rate of five plus till the end of the tenth over.
However, portly Ramesh Powar did manage to keep the things in check with his steady line. He kept nerves, as well Bangladeshi at bay. Tight line was indeed the need of the hour as, at this point, probably the pitch had become
too good for Bangladesh to flounder the second successive time.
They did not. Shared honours in the end, but the gamble taken by Dravid did keep alive the spirit of test cricket. It brought life back into a test, which weather and Bangla tail had conspired to bring to an early demise.
Such gestures, by captains over the years, have ensured the survival of test cricket despite the onslaught of ODIs, and now 20-20.
The climax of an otherwise dull test may have beautifully set up the final test, for an equally absorbing battle.