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Ganguly?s great gambit

The fourth day's play in Sydney was dominated by two decisions. The big one was whether to enforce the follow-on and the other one ? when to declare.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2004 05:58 IST

The fourth day's play in Sydney was dominated by two decisions. The big one was whether to enforce the follow-on. After that was sorted out, there was another one — when to declare.

Arguably, Sourav Ganguly got it right on both counts. The decision to set the Australians a fourth innings target opened up the match.

Ganguly’s decision to bat again was obviously also guided by the need to give Kumble, his only strike bowler, some rest before another spell.

The free flow of runs from Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar vindicated the decision.

Going into the final day of what could prove to be one of the finest Test series ever, with Australia needing 433 runs to win, one thing is sure. Ganguly will be under tremendous pressure.

Having almost made sure that India will not lose the Test, Ganguly has also opened up the possibility that they can win on Tuesday — a victory that would ensure his place among the legends of Indian cricket.

Yet, his strategy was flawed in the morning. Instead of attacking, he was setting defensive fields. It was strange to see a team that had scored over 700 runs and had its opponents virtually on the run lack confidence. What these defensive tactics did was give Jason Gillespie the confidence to survive and allow Simon Katich the freedom to score.

Their partnership ensured that Australia has been left with a chance of drawing, perhaps winning, the match.

But history is stacked against a winning end to Steve Waugh's Test career. The highest score ever made to win a Test at the SCG was 275 in 1898 by Australia against England. And the highest since wickets were covered was 260 by the hosts against the Kiwis in 1985.

First Published: Jan 06, 2004 02:08 IST