By Ashish Shukla
Nottingham: Aug 1, 2011
Senior Indian batsman Rahul Dravid has defended his team’s decision to call back Ian Bell after he was controversially given run out in the ongoing second Test, saying the Englishman’s dismissal didn’t seem “right” going by the spirit of the game.
“If the laws of the games are strictly adhered to, he probably was out. But in the spirit of the game it didn’t think right. (Skipper Mahendra Singh) Dhoni and the team felt the right thing to do was to ask him to bat again,” Dravid said after the third day’s play yesterday.
The incident happened when Bell, after completing the third run off a shot by Eoin Morgan on the final ball before the tea break walked off the crease, assuming that the ball had crossed the boundary.
But Praveen Kumar made a diving effort at boundary and threw the ball at Abhinav Mukund who clipped the bails at the striker’s end.
The Indians appealed and the batsman was given out after replays showed that the ball had not crossed the boundary.
But, in a magnanimous gesture, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni withdrew his appeal against Bell at the tea break, allowing him to bat again.
Crossed at the rather unusual mode of dismissal, the home crowd booed the Indian players, only to cheer it later for the gesture.
Dravid revealed that at the tea break, England coach Andy Flower and and captain Andrew Strauss came over to the Indian dressing room and met Duncan Fletcher and Dhoni.
“I don’t know the details of the meeting. But later Dhoni led the team meeting where the issue was discussed and there was unanimity that we should reinstate Ian Bell. We have to take his (Bell’s) word for it that he wasn’t attempting a run,” Dravid said.
Recalling a similar incident, Dravid said, “There was this incident with Laxman in the West Indies when he was given stumped off Chanderpaul and which left a bitter taste in our stomach.”
“We felt if one of our guys was involved, someone like Laxman or Tendulkar, and the tables were turned, one of the things discussed was how would we feel. The general feeling was no.”
In the Dominica Test in the Caribbean, Chanderpaul had bowled a wide leg-spinner to Laxman who just watched the ball go into the gloves of wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh. But as he relaxed at the crease, his left foot went up and, at that very instant, Baugh removed the bails and successfully appealed for a stumping.
Dravid detailed that the 20 minutes of the tea break was entirely consumed in discussion before a decision was made to withdraw the run-out appeal.
“It took us 20 minutes. Once the discussion began, the to and fro of it, watching the video, trying to know what happened. Flower and Strauss came in, the guys got together and we discussed it, the decision was arrived just about the umpires were getting ready to leave.
“Once we decided, Dhoni or probably Duncan told the third umpire Billy (Bowden) about it and the message was put across.”
“Again in this game we were unfortunately a bowler short. Harbhajan had a stomach injury, we don’t know the exact details yet and he couldn’t complete his action.”
“We needed 10 overs from the spinner before the 80th over and with due respect to Yuvraj and Raina, they are not frontline spinners. They couldn’t control the flow of runs. If Harbhajan was around and bowling at his best, we could have kept an attacking field and there would have been intensity and buzz. We lost it.”
Dravid said the pacers put up a spirited show on a wicket that seemed to have eased up considerably.
“All three quicks tried their best. Ishant and Praveen, for the fifth successive Test, have done a lot of bowling for us. They bowled over 60 overs at Lord’s and 40 here in a matter of three days. Bowlers have put in a lot of work but the rub of the green hasn’t gone our way. We haven’t been good with our injuries in the series,” Dravid said.
Apart from missing spearhead Zaheer Khan, a lot has also to do with England’s long batting order.
“England bat very deep. We keep taking wickets and feel we are into the tail when suddenly England’s lower order capitalise when the bowlers were tired. (Matt) Prior has been very positive. It looks like he has again taken the game away from us.”
Dravid was still positive and said his team would try to bat as well as it could under the circumstances.
“We need to be positive. It’s not going to be easy. We’ve got quality batsmen, we’ve got to fight and not worry too much about the score. We need to treat it as the first innings of the game and take it from there.”
Dravid also said he was disappointed with the suggestion that VVS Laxman might have used vaseline on his bat, which allowed him to escape the hot-spot review during India’s first innings yesterday.
“If England has made that suggestion, I am very disappointed. It’s the first time I have heard a thing like this,” said Dravid reacting to former England captain Michael Vaughan’s tweet that “was it the Vaseline which saved the day for Laxman.”