It is foolish for a cricket captain to elect to field after winning the toss. Yet many times captains elect to field after winning toss and mostly lose. The theory is that it is easy to chase a target than set up a winning total. The reality is that there is no pressure when batting first and the team batting first mostly wins. If a team cannot defend the total it has scored it is unlikely it can chase a target and win the match.
On 18/6/2017 in Champions Trophy final Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field. The result was a disaster. Pakistan scored 338/4 in 50 overs. India were all out for 158 runs in 30.2 overs. This is the latest instance of a foolish captain.
On 4/6/2017 Pakistan’s Captain Sarfraz Ahmed had elected to field. There was rain. India scored 319/3 in 48 overs. Pakistan had to score 288 in 41 overs. They were 164 all out in 33.4 overs.
In 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1999, and 2003 World Cup finals the team batting first won the match. In 1987 India’s Captain Kapil Dev in World Cup semi-final against England elected to field and lost by 35 runs. In 1996 India’s Captain Mohammed Azharuddin in World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka elected to field. Sri Lanka scored 251/8. India began the chase. After second wicket fell India lost wickets regularly. It was 120/8. There was crowd trouble. Match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka.
In 2003 World Cup final against Australia, India’s Captain Sourav Ganguly elected to field. Zaheer Khan bowled the first over and conceded 15 runs, 8 of them extras. India lost the match.
A captain should elect to bat after winning the toss and enforce follow on whenever there is opportunity. If a team can chase a target and win, it can also set up a target and win. If a captain does not enforce follow on and the team loses after enforcing follow on there is something wrong.
It was not all doom and gloom for India on 18/6/2017. India defeated Pakistan 7-1 in Hockey World League semi-final at Olympic Park, some miles away from Oval where India lost. India’s Kidambi Srikanth defeated Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 21-10, 21-19 and won Indonesian Open Premier Super Series title in Jakarta. Our TV channels put all their eggs in cricket basket. They should put some eggs in other baskets. Anchors had taken Indian cricket team’s victory for granted and had arranged for discussions after the match. India lost. Discussions cancelled.