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)

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Nottingham

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Dambulla

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Basseterre, St Kitts

No result

India tour of England 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Cardiff

India won by 133 runs

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 26, 2014  at Hambantota

Sri Lanka won by 77 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 25, 2014  at Harare

Australia won by 198 runs

Photos

Aaron Finch's record 156 vs England in T20I

Videos

Trent Bridge cricket ground: A small tour

Zimbabwe vs South Africa Live Cricket Score, 3rd ODI at Harare: Prosper Utseya takes a hat-trick

England, take ODIs seriously if you want to win

Hiralal Gaekwad: the southpaw who lost out to Vinoo Mankad

Lord Ganesha XI: Eleven cricketers who were named after the elephant God

Suresh Raina’s new avatar on India’s tour of England 2014

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 South Africa Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014

Prosper Utseya becomes 2nd Zimbabwean to take hat-trick; removes Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller

India aim to continue winning momentum against England in 3rd ODI at Nottingham

Suresh Raina says he can tackle short ball

Live Streaming Zimbabwe vs South Africa 3rd ODI at Harare: Zimbabwe Tri Series 2014

Live Scorecard Zimbabwe vs South Africa 3rd ODI at Harare: Zimbabwe Tri Series 2014

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 3rd ODI at Hambantota: Key clashes

National Sports Day: Cricket’s television revolution has inspired other sports

Tinashe Panyangara’s suspension by Zimbabwe Cricket is ludicrous

England, take ODIs seriously if you want to win

Hiralal Gaekwad: the southpaw who lost out to Vinoo Mankad

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

666 Posts | 6 Fans

12 runs in one ball

Parineeti Chopra was always afraid of experimenting with her hair!

Suresh Raina says he can tackle short ball

Aaron Finch’s record 156 vs England in T20I

George Clooney beats Brad Pitt to be named Hollywood’s most-gracefully ageing male!

Ganesh Chaturthi 2014: Varun Dhawan calls Ganpati as his favourite deity!

Ganesh Chaturthi 2014: Top 5 Android apps to download this Ganpati Festival

HTC Mobiles official sponsor of Kings XI Punjab

Ganesh Chaturthi 2014: Boman Irani conveys his wishes with a Happy New Year still!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here