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The fifth day poser: When India gave up too soon in the 2011 Dominica Test

India 2011 Dominica
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

A look back at the Dominica Test between India and West Indies in 2011, when the visitors’ decision to not go all out for a seemingly probable chase was followed by instant brickbats.

England’s decision to opt against a fifth-day chase against New Zealand in the recently-concluded Lord’s Test received criticism from some quarters after the home team settled for a draw despite the top order laying a strong platform. The England side went at just over two runs per over throughout, with Joe Root defending the team’s approach, saying that “in the grand scheme of things, winning the series was [more important than] giving them a 1-0 lead”.

Ten years ago, the Indian team, too, had to defend itself from a barrage of questions, after relinquishing the chance to go for a 2-0 lead in the Caribbean. The circumstances were different though; India were 1-0 up in the three-match series ahead of the concluding Test at Windsor Park, the venue’s maiden Test.

The Indian team, then No.1 in the ICC Test rankings, needed 180 in the fourth innings to seal the game. The equation came down to 86 runs required in 15 overs, with seven wickets in hand, with Suresh Raina and VVS Laxman at the crease, and Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni to follow. The 12,000-strong crowd at Roseau would have been silently disappointed at the walk-away, but closer home, Indian fans and media were far more vocal in their displeasure.

Duncan Fletcher, India’s head coach at that time, put on a defensive cloak in the press conference that followed, finding enough reason in the cop-out. Seemingly annoyed with the line of questioning that unsurprisingly revolved around the fifth-day decision, he repeatedly explained that the pitch was difficult to bat on. At one point, the frustration reached a point where he said: “Huh … I have covered it. I have been repeating myself the whole time. I have told you it was difficult to score runs.”

The drawn Test kickstarted a period of drought for India overseas: they won only one of their next 19 Tests under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.

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