High-profile India-England Test series begins with focus on Tendulkar

High-Profile India-England Test Series Begins With Focus on Tendulkar
Bobilli Vijay Kumar,

Sachin Tendulkar : England Tours
LONDON: Across the quaintly beautiful Lord's ground, overlooking the lush Nursery turf, the legend is inscribed in cold black and white: "This is a special ground for me. All batters dream of scoring a hundred here and I am no different."

You don't even have to look at the visage next to the words to see the irony behind them. It is Sachin Tendulkar's face, a close shot: he has just essayed a glide and his eyes are blazing; there is a hint of a twinkle too, raising visions of another cheeky stroke.

He is, of course, not just different; Tendulkar is special, indeed THE special one.
Sachin: A Comparison

                          Matches      Innings     NO      Runs          HS       Average       100s      50s

Overall                177            290         32         14692       248*       56.94          51         59
In England           24              39           4          2150         193         61.42          7         10
At Lord's              4               7            0          149            37          21.28         0          0 

Just like the rest of his story, the upcoming chapter too has a poignancy, an unsolved mystery: why hasn't he scored a century here? Why has he not crossed 37 and why is his average only about 22? There may be many reasons; but you can't help conclude that that's the way it was ordained: in his life, everything must have a fairytale ending.

Look at the recent World Cup triumph itself: he had to wait six editions, almost 20 years, to make it happen. But then, it had to come at home, in front of adoring millions, isn't it? It had to be in Mumbai, too, where the journey had begun such a long time back. The coronation as the greatest couldn't have taken place anywhere else.

Surely, Lord's moment has now come. There is already drama and history attached to this Test, the first one of a four-match series starting Thursday: it is the 100th clash between England, the rulers, and India, the ruled. A victory at the home of cricket is the only way to signal the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.

Yes, it's time for Team India's reign to begin, at least, in this game.

The script has already unfolded beautifully: India are the champions in one-dayers and England in T20; India are Number One in Tests and England raring to get there; India are the best batting side and England the best bowling unit. India are undisputed champions and England worthy contenders.

It's a battle fit for gods; the setting is even more perfect. There is just one little hitch though: the weather. It has always been an important element of cricket, providing its own twists and turns. This time, though, it is threatening to ruin the contest, if not the match itself.

India better be wary: they are anyway slow starters and wouldn't want to be waylaid by rain, cold or swing. They need to get out of here unscathed to come into their own; the rest of the pieces, as we have seen in the past, will automatically fall into place.

It will require extraordinary effort though: the pitch promises pace and bounce as well. James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad (or Tim Bresnan) are already bristling: they will hope to break into the Indian batting quickly. After all, the first round will be crucial: whoever wins it will probably have the last laugh too.

India are aware of this; more importantly, they also have the firepower to exploit the conditions. Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth (or Praveen Kumar, given the wicket) can fight fire with fire, and stare with stare. The team has mastered the art of lifting itself befitting the occasion.

And there can't be a grander occasion than this: this will, after all, be the 2000th Test match as well. The ICC has great plans to make it even more memorable. The players themselves are excited; the fans are looking forward to a suitable battle too.

If that is not enough, the two teams have another little motivation: Tendulkar's 100th hundred.

Every Indian wants it and every England player wants to stop it. When play begins at 11am, there will be a buzz at Lord's. Will his dream come true? Or will this century elude him?

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