ARYABHATTA FILES

Enforce the follow-on or not?


Rajneesh Gupta

Dhoni's decision not to enforce the follow-on over Australia at Mohali (despite being entitled to do so) will be debated over next two days. However, there is nothing unusual with his decision nor is he first captain not to enforce the follow-on. Captains these days don't think much about enforcing the follow-on if less than two days are left in the match, however if there is much time left then they invariably decide against it and prefer to bat again. This tactics not only keeps their bowlers fresh, but also takes away the pressure of batting last in the match.

The following table gives a break-up of the instances of captains deciding to enforce the follow-on and those deciding not to. There is hardly any difference in the winning percentage!

 

Instances

Won

Lost

Drawn

Won%

Sides enforcing the follow-on

277

209

3

65

75.45

Sides not enforcing the follow-on

44

34

1

9

76.57

However this tactics of not enforcing the follow-on has not been that successful with the Indian captains.On all three previous occasions when an Indian captain did not enforce the follow-on, India failed to win the match.Hopefully this will not be the case this time around. Australia,on the other hand, have won on 12 out of 12 occasions ! Also important is the fact that Australia have lost only twice out of five previous instances when the opposition decided against enforcing the follow-on upon them. They managed to draw twice and even snatched a victory against South Africa at Durban in 1949-50, which remains the only instance for a side to lose the Test after deciding not to enforce the follow-on.

Country-wise break-up of captains deciding not to enforce the follow-on: 
 

Country

Instances

Won

Lost

Drawn

England

9

7

-

2

West Indies

10

8

-

2

Australia

12

12

-

-

South Africa

6

3

1

2

India

3

-

-

3

New Zealand

1

1

-

-

Pakistan

1

1

-

-

Sri Lanka

2

2

-

-

Total

44

34

1

9


Following are the previous instances when Indian captains did not enforce the follow-on:
 

Lead

Opponent

Venue

Season

Result

Captain

319

England

The Oval

2007

Drawn

R Dravid

231

Australia

Sydney

2003-04

Drawn

SC Ganguly

275

New Zealand

Ahmedabad

1999-00

Drawn

SR Tendulkar

Just for the record, India have won 16 out of 26 Tests when they have enforced the follow-on (winning percentage-61.53%), with opposition escaping with a draw in remaining 10. 


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