When India decided to call off the chase and with it the last Test match, I was compelled to ask myself this question - did we play like the No. 1 Test side?
We won the Test series 1-0 and before that the ODI series 3-2 and hence this question shouldn't have cropped up, yet India's move did leave me perplexed.
You may argue that chasing in the fourth innings on a fifth day pitch can be tricky, but this was neither a typical fifth day surface nor was the bowling threatening. The pitch was slightly on the slower side and while it wasn't easy to score at a fast clip, it was equally difficult to dislodge a batsman if he intended to stay put. West Indies' ninth wicket partnership of 65 on the fifth day would vindicate my point.
When we started the chase we needed slightly fewer than four runs an over from 47 overs and hence I anticipated an exciting dash to the finish line. Yes, I also expected a few hiccups along the way but it would have only increased the excitement. It had the making of an absorbing contest, for the No. 1 was out there to reiterate its position, while the No. 8 side was fighting for survival.
Fear of failure
India showed the right intent by promoting Raina at the fall of Vijay. Bishoo was turning the ball off the rough and the left-hander was most adept at negotiating him. He began in right earnest but couldn't continue for long. His fall prompted India to shut shop and play for a draw. When play was called off, India needed less than run-a-ball in 15 overs with seven wickets in hand and its two senior most batsmen still in the middle. The decision to throw in the towel baffled a lot of us.
There was a possibility of things going haywire but do champions allow that negative thought to cloud their thinking? If you're paranoid about falling, you'd never start walking. Yes, it was practical to shut shop had we lost a few more wickets and had the asking rate climbed to 10 runs an over, but not until such a thing had happened.
Wasn't there a case of promoting Kohli and Dhoni to up the ante and keeping Laxman and Dravid as the safety net in case of things going wrong? You may argue that we would have gone that extra yard if we were at full strength but this draw wasn't because of our lack of skills but for the lack of intent.
We did something similar in the second Test when we didn't force the issue on the penultimate day. We were guilty of scoring slowly on Day 4 that delayed the eventual declaration. We'd have won that game too if we had a few more overs to bowl.
We can blame the track and rain in Barbados, but not in Dominica.