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Killer Instinct

by Mahek

It's a very commonly used term and yet it's very hard to define. Whatever it is, it is definitely something the Indian team has been known for, and they demonstrated it once again on the third day's play in Chittagong. Sehwag and Gambhir put on 90 for the first wicket in double quick time. The bowlers don't look like getting a wicket if their lives depended on it. Ideal time for Rahul Dravid to come in. Not so fast. Enter Amit Mishra, India's latest nightwatchman. To his credit, Mishra takes on the bowling in a manner Dravid seldom does. 24 off 21 balls and India are piling it on with Shakib and an assortment of slow bowlers at the other end. Why then would you take the light? There have been enough overs lost already and you would think the number one side in the world would show its intent to win by not taking the light against the bottom ranked team in test cricket.

For all we know India may still end up winning this test and all this would be forgotten. However, this attitude is going to cost them a number of test wins like the ones at The Oval, Bangalore, Mohali and Wellington. The number one spot may still belong to us thanks to the regression of other sides, but that is not what you play cricket for. On second thought, when you've spent so many years playing out mindnumbing draws that were decided on first innings lead it's understandable why our team lacks the "killer instinct".


straight point said...

i did not saw the match live but do you really think that its mere a coincidence that mishra played the way he played...?

Gaurav Sethi said...

Looking at the four games you've linked up here, Viru didn't play the first two, in the other two his highest is 48 (0,17, 48, 12). Here it's 52 and 45; just catching the highlights, curious abt how bad the light - reckon we'll lose a lot more overs, and a declaration at 300-350 ahead should be good enough - that means 200-250 more, think Bangla may scrape home safe here.

Prabu said...


Prabu said...

That was a lazy post from me. But really, I didn't see anyone here (other than Homer back in dopaise days) make a similar point when Aussies took the light or the English took the light. This is more of "India doesn't have killer instinct", how do I fit the current event into that model post.

Homer said...


The point I was making there is that when you have the opposition on the ropes, you do not give them a lifeline by taking the light because one does not know what the morrow will bring.


Not sure if this is a killer instinct related issue. Because, in the course of this match itself, India have shown the tendency to fight back from a bad position ( as they have in different matches over the last 5 odd years). Now, from this match situation alone, would not taking the light have been prudent? And what about the fact that umpires are obliged to maintain the same light rules during the duration of the match - if play was called off for a particular light meter reading, the same is applicable across all days. In that situation, how much longer could play have gone on for? Based on the answers to those questions can a quantifiable argument be made on the presence or absence of a "killer instinct".


Mahek said...


I'm neither English nor Australia so I won't be as upset if they did the same. I don't know why we need to compare our cricket to anyone else's. To me it's about being the best you can irrespective of how others are.


Prudence goes out the window at times when you're looking to win every game. Every move in cricket comes with the risk. In this case, the risk was losing the wicket of a nightwatchman. Considering the bowlers who were operating at that time, I'd say the benefits far outweighed the risks.

There is a benchmark reading for the light during every test but batsmen can choose to continue even if the light reading is beyond the benchmark.

Homer said...


Then why send the nightwatchman in the first place if you are not playing for stumps?

Also, from the ICC Test Match Playing Conditions

3.5.2 The umpires shall be the final judges of the fitness of the ground,weather and light for play

If at any time the umpires together agree that the conditions
of ground, weather or light are so bad that there is obvious
and foreseeable risk to the safety of any player or umpire, so
that it would be unreasonable or dangerous for play to take
place, then they shall immediately suspend play, or not allow
play to commence or to restart. The decision as to whether
conditions are so bad as to warrant such action is one for the
umpires alone to make

Secondly, on Day 1, play was called off after 63 overs. Day 2, after 27 overs ( including the innings break), Day 3 after 70 overs. Could the Indians have pressed on - they could have but the game would not have extended for more than a couple of overs. Did it make sense then to lose a wicket and have another player come in for the remainder of the time, given that there wasnt much time left in the day's play?

Does it point to a lack of killer instinct? Does Amit Mishra's intent point to the presence of a killer instinct?


Mahek said...

We won't know how long the game would have gone on. It certainly looked like they could have played on for a while as long as the spinners were bowling.

The final decision does lie with the umpires in that they can overrule the batsmen even if they want to continue. In this case, the umpires asked the batsmen so clearly they didn't have a problem with play continuing.

The fact that Mishra was so comfortable makes it even more stupid to take the light. Sure he could have gotten out, but he was sent in because the team would rather lose him than a top order batsman.

Homer said...


if there were 40 overs to go in the day's play, sending Mishra made no cricketing sense at all unless he was sent in as a pinch hitter ( which again makes no sense). If there were 7 overs left in the day's play and Mishra stepped out, it makes perfect cricketing sense because you are playing for the close. Given that light was offered 5 overs after Mishra came into bat, play would not have stretched for more than 5 over after that. In which case it is better to bargain for an early start than lose a wicket and expose a new batsman.

Had India taken the light with 40 overs left in the day, I would be in total agreement with your position. Now, I am not so sure.


Mahek said...

Call me crude but I look at it more simplistically.

a) Were the batsmen in any sort of trouble? No

b) Was there any problem sighting the ball? No

c) Was the team looking to save the test? No

If the answer to each of these questions is a "No" I don't see why the batsmen couldn't have carried on.

Tifosi Guy said...

Actually why the need for a nightwatchman ?

I don't know who said the statement - if I can't bat out a few overs at the end of the day, then I don't consider myself a batsman. Was it Sehwag ?? Possibly.

I frankly hate the sight of a poor bowler coming out and acting as nightwatchman.

In my opinion it puts off the other batsman as well. There's a reason why a batsman is called so and vice versa for a bowler.

Lastly I think if the spinners were bowling, then the blokes should have stretched it out for as far as they could. Simply because it might come in handy at the end of the test, IF things get tight.

Which I guess it shouldn't since Bdesh are Ordinary :-)

Prabu said...


The whole point is that don't associate this with killer-instinct. Criticise the decision with your argument, that is fine but why jump on to the bandwagon of "we lack killer-instinct" every time a decision is taken that one thinks is defensive? Why do we have to go to psycho analysis for everything? Indians are in general extremely competetive given the size of the population and limited number of opportunities that exist. So, do we really lack in killer instinct? OR are we then making that argument only in the arena of sports? This whole thing is like those University folks in the US (Wendy Doniger, et al) who are analysing all Gods with psychoanalysis and passing judegement on their sexual orientation.

Your comment in response to Homer below is far more substantive than your post.

Mahek said...


I totally agree with you on the issue of nightwatchman. Even asked John Wright about it when I went to the Wellington Test and he gave a very diplomatic answer (Probably thought I might be some journo).


This has happened time and again with the Indian team. I'd say most teams err way too much on the side of caution, be it with the light, field placements, bowling plans or declarations. It's probably why there isn't an undisputed best side in test cricket at the moment.

Rohit said...

'IT may have been a better day for the Indian side at Chittagong, but it could have been much better after the hosts were reduced to six wickets down. It was also baffling to see the visitors take the light offered by the umpires. After all, a number eight batsman in Amit Mishra was handling the bowlers with great aplomb.'

-From Vishy's article in TOI

Aditya said...

If play is called out on a similar reading on all days and when India should be in stronger positions ind ays 4 and 5 and we should press for more play as i cannot see over 75 overs in a day's play in this test.

and as pointed out by Rohit in the TOI article we should have pressed on. Light was called off after Mishra scored a boundary of the previous ball!
We are the no 1 ranked test side playing the bottom ranked Test team and we should push for a win rather than be happy with a draw.if this test is a draw and even if we win the series 1-0 we loose 1 rating point!When you have the opposition on the mat grind them into it!

All the above mentioned matches are here we could have pushed for a win but we sadly did not!We are happy with winning a series 1-0 rather than risk the outside chance of the opposition pulling off a miracle.Maybe it shows the confidence of the captain in our bowlers and maybe Ian Chappell was right!

Homer said...


Different matches, different scenarios, different personnel. One size does not fit all.

In this particular case, I do not see the benefits of continuing to play on, especially when the game would not have stretched for more than an over or two ( less if Shakib had brought on his pace bowlers to force the umpires hand).

Now, if someone argued that we held back on the declaration for too long in the second essay, I will whole heartedly endorse that view.


Aditya said...

Same team, same intent to play safe

I too agree that the game would not have stretched beyond 5-10 minutes, but the intent matters the mental outlook of preserving wickets and all matters to me esp when its no 1 vs no 9 !

A brave declaration would be at 350-360 and a good one would have been at 37-380.
India took an average decision.Let's hope light does not play spoilsport tommorow!

Homer said...


On this issue I concur.. I wanted us to declare about an hour, hour 20 minutes after lunch so as to bowl about 8 overs at them before tea.

But comparing that with not prolonging play on Day 3, I do not quite agree..

Sending in a night watchman and declaring an innings close have different motivations. While the thinking in both cases may be similar ( and I use the word "may" advisedly), drawing equivalence between the two decisions is neither here nor there.


Mahek said...

Should we point and laugh at Shakib when his batsmen take the light? After all, they're going for a win.

raj said...

Mahek, nobody points a finger at Shakib and laughs, I say!

Isnt Shakib the adopted son of BCC!? :-)