The Importance of a No.3

The decision to pick Cheteshwar Pujara for the one-dayers against England means that he is now expected to fill yet another pair of Dravid's shoes. It means that the No.3 slot is taken care of, and should be for a while. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's reluctance to bat in that position is understandable, even if he ought to come higher than his current batting position at No.6.

updated: January 09, 2013 13:09 IST
  • Total Shares

Bangalore: Ajit Wadekar, India's first One-Day International captain, said of the early days of the format: "We didn't take the game seriously. We saw one-day cricket as merely an extension (or contraction, actually) of Test cricket." India's first win came in Quetta, Pakistan, four years after their debut.

Yet in the first decade of the game, India stumbled upon tactics that are seen today as modern and contemporary. Although medium-pacers (known in those days as 'military medium' for being efficient rather than sharp, and correct rather than flamboyant) flourished, it was the bowling of Bishan Bedi and S Venkatraghavan that suggested an Indian alternative to the prevailing doctrine. Spin mattered, even in a one-day game.

Then there was the issue of split captaincy. In the 1980s, Sunil Gavaskar led in Tests and a young allrounder named Kapil Dev took over in one-dayers. Yet, Gavaskar's was a crucial presence at the top of the order. It was his superb 90 in Berbice, Guyana, which paved the way for India's first-ever win over the great West Indies, a team that had won the first two World Cups. Gavaskar made only one century in the short format which he disliked, yet he played important roles in many victories, anchoring the team. As Mike Brearley says in his book on captaincy, a cricket team works by the dint of differentiation. You cannot have all strokeplayers or all left-hand batsmen or only offspinners in your line-up.

Show Full Article