Home > Features >

India vs England 1st Test at Trent Bridge: Did MS Dhoni miss a trick by not declaring?

    MS Dhoni-led India had a chance to declare and put England under pressure © Getty Images
MS Dhoni-led India had a chance to declare and put England under pressure © Getty Images

India drew their opening Test match of their five-match series against England at Trent Bridge after batting for the entire day as Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar completed half-centuries. Shiamak Unwalla wonders whether the match could have panned out differently had MS Dhoni declared earlier.

India started Day Five at a comfortable 167 for three, with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane at the crease. A lead of 128, with seven wickets remaining, at the start of the fifth day of a Test in England is usually a safe place to be.

However, being 184 for six — leading by only 145— with just four wickets remaining and not a single genuine top-order batsman left, is a rather insecure position to be in. Yet, that is where India found itself merely an hour into the day’s play.

It was left to Ravindra Jadeja, who has a highest Test score of 43, debutant Stuart Binny, and first innings hero, Bhuvneshwar Kumar to rescue India. And rescue India they did, in a rather convincing fashion. Binny combined first with Jadeja, and then Bhuvneshwar to take India out of danger and put them firmly in the driver’s seat.

Jadeja was dismissed for 31, with the score on 249. India had a lead of 210 at that point, with around 50 overs remaining in the day’s play. Had Dhoni declared then, the match would have been wide open.

It would have shaken England out of their stupor immediately, and could have left them jaded in their chase. With Alastair Cook in poor form, and the English mindset being decidedly defensive, the risk of them chasing down those runs was almost negligible. In fact, Cheteshwar Pujara had said on Day Four that the pitch was quite difficult to score quickly on.

Keeping this in mind, had Dhoni declared, the ball would have been firmly in England’s court. Without a batsman of the calibre of Kevin Pietersen  to help felicitate the chase, England could well have been caught in two minds whether to go for glory or be content with a draw.

A few wickets in this scenario could have led to panic in the ranks of a largely inexperienced batting line-up — Sam Robson, Gary Ballance and Moeen Ali have played a grand total of 10 Tests between them — which could have been exploited by the Indian bowlers.

Of course, this is all mere conjecture. It is equally possible that England would have batted out the remaining overs placidly, and both teams would have called off play an hour early, and enjoyed with a beer at the famous Trent Bridge inn.

However, the fact that both Dhoni and England skipper Cook were content on drawing — Cook brought himself and Gary Ballance on to bowl at one point — does not bode particularly well for the series. Perhaps with a bit more positive intent, Dhoni could have sent a very strong message to an opposing captain who has precious little confidence at the moment (but who admittedly had enough confidence in his bowling to send down two overs of his wibbly wobbly  part-timey stuff.

India held out to a draw, thereby managing not to lose the first Test of a series in England for only the fourth time since 1932. In that respect, it could be considered a victory for the visitors. However, if India are to have any chance of actually winning this series, Dhoni will need to be more aggressive and take a few more risks.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son included in UP One-Day squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

Microsoft Office for Mac to release in 2015, new Outlook for Mac now available to Office 365 subscribers

Furious 7 trailer launch: Trailer Live Streaming of the much awaited Vin Diesel, late Paul Walker film

Ayurvedic treatment: 7 types of Ayurvedic massages you should know about

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

International programme in Animal Husbandry

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Nokia’s Chennai plant not a part of the Microsoft deal, to shut shop tomorrow

Beauty Tip #43 — Get fuller-looking lips with home-made sugar scrub

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Birthday Special: Top 5 roles which stunned her fans

Bigg Boss 8 Day 40 highlights: Upen Patel faces captaincy woes; Gautam Gulati punished again!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here