Safety first, A hazard

Harsha

One level lower and we have seen the mindset at the Irani Trophy. Even more unfortunate was Mumbai's approach in their Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat. Needing 135 from a minimum of 41 overs to seal an outright win, Mumbai opted to dawdle to 65-1 from 27 overs with opener Kaustubh Pawar scoring 15 not out from 88 balls. If you love bright, attacking cricket, you would have been particularly pained by the statement from the Mumbai coach "It wasn't really going to matter eventually — whether we went for the target or not. The fact is we have achieved the objective of qualifying" And so Mumbai allowed themselves to play dull, purposeless cricket instead of challenging themselves for a superior cause.

Go deeper and at the Under-16 level you have a similar attitude. It is inevitable for youngsters are going to be looking at what senior cricketers do. Sample this from Mumbai vs Jharkhand in the Under-16 quarter-final. Mumbai made 360 and bowled Jharkhand out for 46. An innings defeat, seemingly inevitable, Jharkhand found themselves fielding again while Mumbai made 440-9, a lead of 754. They then left Jharkhand around 33 overs of batting. The moment Mumbai's lead went beyond 450 or 500 there was no competitive interest left in the match and the only issue was generating numbers, statistics that would look good on paper, batting averages. What you didn't get was a contest that would make those numbers more relevant.

Worse still by batting on, you are looking at generating batting numbers rather than allowing bowlers to win the match in the fourth innings. And by the time the bowlers are given their role, there is no competitive element left in the game. So how do you produce attacking bowlers who can win you a game in a 50-50 situation on the last day if they don't get the practice to do so? And so by minimising the maximum pay-off possible for the opposition, teams, and therefore Indian cricket, lose out much more in the long run.

... contd.

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