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Cricket: The Beauty in a Draw

The test match at Sydney ended a couple of days ago. It will be remembered for one of the greatest example of resilience shown in cricket, especially in recent history. Draws aren’t a norm in test cricket these days. There used to be a time about a 15 years ago when Draws were regular. So much so, that I remember detesting drawn matches. The result of a drawn match was naught. There was no real conclusion to the game.

Batsman would bat on for days on end and the scores would cross 400. The numbers would feel meaningless. At that time, Indian cricket would talk about taking 20 wickets. Very often both the teams in the first innings would score 400+ and I would immediately know that this game is most likely heading for a draw. When draws are regular, games are boring. Most games must produce a result.

That changed as the Indian batting line up became more fragile after the many great batsman slowly retired one after another. The bowling also slowly beefed up and truly started showing it’s true colours under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. We stopped talking about taking 20 wickets and instead started talking about restricting the opposition to the lowest score possible. I also feel that the wickets became more bowling friendly. Wickets started falling regularly and scores of 200 started becoming the new normal. In these games every run truly counted and small first inning leads could become match defining.

This changed test cricket for me. It suddenly became a much more riveting contest.  I believe today that all test matches must be played under bowler friendly conditions. That is when every run counts and every minute spent out in the middle can make a powerful impact on the game. Games started ending within 4 days and sometimes even ended within 3 days.  Draws were hard to come by.

That’s when draws truly matter. Draws add another dimension to the game. They offer a reason to play for a losing side and an uncertainty to the winning side. A draw is a chance for the game to be defined as a display of resilience rather than a decisive victory. Games are only won when a team has thoroughly outplayed the opponent but if the game is drawn then it offers redemption to a team that was beaten but not defeated. Playing for a draw is not a meaningless endeavor. It is a gritty fight and test of character.

That is only true when draws are rare, as they are now. The only thing in favour of India as they go into the test at Brisbane is this draw at Sydney. They are plagued with injuries and their bowling line up is completely untested. What they have shown is heroic character and that character is what they will be banking on to win the test match. Todays Indian fan believes that this Indian side has the potential to play out of its skin to win the test match at Gabba but the truth is that this Indian side will have to play out of it’s skin to win.

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