Cricket: Australia-India Final Test

I’ve been watching the whole series since the timing works out to watch in the evenings on the east coast of the US. India is up 2-1 and have never won a test series in Aus. They batted first and scored over 600 before declaring after almost 2 full days. This makes no sense to me if you want to win. All it does is increase the chance of a draw. I can’t see how Australia has any chance to win, so am I reading it right that India is essentially playing for a draw? Or else why not declare at 500? Or 400 like they did last test?

Not unheard of. IIRC, in 1987, Pakistan had every chance to win the final test in England, but were more interested in making sure they did not lose the series, which would be their first series win in England.

Not really.

If India was only playing for a draw they wouldn’t have declared.

They kept batting 1) because it was a road and the Australian bowlers were flagging.
2) give Jadeja a chance to score his century and declared when he was dismissed.

Yes, running up mountainous first innings scores and trying to roll the opposition twice is a pretty dour way to play but they are under no obligation to play bright, high risk cricket. It ain’t their fault to locals batting is inane to the basics of Test Cricket.

Declaring for 443 in Melbourne was based on the time of day. It gave them a short session at the close of play when the Indian bowlers were fresh and the Aussies had been in the field for two days. It would have been discussed whether they should have batted on into the 3rd day and scored 600.

This time they have scored quicker to have 622 by but deployed the same strategy. Declare with time for a short spell at the opposition top order who have been fielding for most of six sessions.

In Melbourne Indian scored 443 off 169 overs.
In Sydney they scored 622 off 167 overs.

There’s plenty of time to bowl the Aussies out twice.
Will be all over before lunch on day five.

Thanks. I didn’t think of the time of day part of the decision. That said, a little googling showed me that, in the history of test cricket, only 7 first innings scores of over 500 have gone on to lose the game:

However, after Aus losing 6 wickets on Day 3, your prognostication could come through. I wonder if India would employ the follow-on if Aus go down quickly tomorrow.

The only way India can lose is by not enforcing the follow-on.
And that involves a monumental collapse for under 100 and Australia chasing down 400 on the final day. A Boys Own Annual fantasy, I would think.

Australia can save it from here with application but none of the top order have shown any sign.
Best batting strip for the series and they still can’t bat out a day or score 300.

India need 10 wickets with 98 overs to get them in. Weather permitting of course.

They probably only need to take 4 or 5 wickets, we will just give them the others.

Showers in Sydney might make it a moot point.

Almost a moat point as it turned out.

Day’s play abandoned with out a ball bowled.
Losing 2-1 to a Indian team of this quality is not a fair indication of the gulf between them.

Another point to the OP: with India 2-1 up, a draw is still a good result for them as it gives them the series win - they didn’t need to win this test, though undoubtedly would have done given time.

So, England beat India at home, India beat Australia away, and people are still worried that England are going to be destroyed in the next Ashes? I’d put more weight on the second result than the first, and Australia are probably still favourites on home turf, but as I’ve been saying for a while now, they’re hardly a team to be feared at the moment.

My guess is Aussie cricket will rehabilitate the DIY boys in an express fashion to avoid an Ashes humiliation.

I guess that was the deeper question. Is each test important enough on a standalone basis, or does winning the series take precedence? Perhaps in the historical context of India never having won a test series in Australia, it is the latter. But is that true of all test series?

I think in general, the first objective of a team and its captain is to win the series. And in fact, extrapolating further, I think a captain will generally face less criticism for conservative tactics that turn a possible win into a draw, than aggressive tactics that turn a probable draw into a loss. Except of course in a case where a win is essential to tie a series (e.g. it didn’t make a lot of difference to Australia in that last test if they lost the series 1-2 or 1-3; there was no point in them playing for a draw, had it come to that).

For similar reasons, I’m always impressed by captains/coaches who can motivate their teams to win tests when the series is already completely decided. I haven’t checked the stats, but I suspect amongst closely-matched teams, dead rubbers are won by the side that has lost the series more often than not, as they have more pride to play for.

Each test, irrespective of the current situation in the series between the two sides, goes into the ICC World Rankings calculation. In theory, every Test is therefore important and you should want to win 3-1 instead of 2-1.

In practice, series wins have always been the lingua franca of Test Cricket, so teams don’t tend to behave like this. As you’ve already identified, in this particular case, India had never won a series in Australia and wanted to make history in that regard. Chasing 3-1 and potentially losing and making it 2-2 would have been regarded as a missed opportunity at best, grounds for capital punishment at worst - and the gain in ICC ranking points would be so slight that it makes no real difference.

Starting from the upcoming Ashes series, there is going to be a new overarching World Test Championship. It remains to be seen whether we are going to see teams chase results more in dead rubbers - but that’s one of the outcomes that is hoped for.

ETA: Calculation of the rankings is explained here:

I said after England-Australia up here that, if India got runs, their seam up bowling attack was good enough to win them the series in Australia and so it proved. They’re a very good unit - and once Pujara and others came to the party, rather than relying on Kohli to do all the work, Australia were going to be hard up against it. The Australia squad that has been selected for the upcoming SL series looks, to my eye, somewhat more likely to score runs than the team v India. If two of Burns, Renshaw or Pucovski can bed in, with Smith and Warner to come back, I still think Australia has reasonable chance in the Ashes. Their bowling unit will definitely cause England issues - though given the depth with which England bat, they’re going to need to do more with the old ball in England, than they did with the old ball against India (at least they’ll be playing with a Duke instead). As ever though, they need runs on the board to set the match up - this is going to need to be the short term focus.

As an aside, I’ve been thinking about the cricket threads here. I figure I may well start a World Cup one when that rolls around - and the Ashes threads pick up somewhere in the region of 200-300 posts. Would people be up for a rolling international cricket thread instead? Or am I the only one watching cricket between nations that don’t include my own home country (have spent the winter watching a lot of NZ v SL and SA v Pakistan, as well as Australia-India) and thus there would be little appetite?

Huh, I’m a fool - I have no idea why I thought the next Ashes was in Australia. Must have blotted the poor showing 12 months ago out of my mind! I revise my comment to England being about 2-1 favourites on home soil, then. But yes, that does give a decent percentage for the Aussies to go at.

As to your aside, I barely watch any cricket at all, but I’d be up for a rolling thread, I always find others’ commentary on it interesting and I try to contribute what little I can.

FWLIW I’d opt for the thread per series scenario.

Which would mean some series with remarkable cricket e.g. the recent Pakistan v New Zealand series aren’t remarked upon, which would be a shame.

See, an even handed critic!

I would be up for a rolling cricket thread. I’ve been watching a bit of the Pakistan/South Africa series, which had seen good cricket.
The Eng/WI series is soon too.