Strong contenders India and England go into a high-voltage cricket Test series at the Lord’s on Thursday with the spotlight on Sachin Tendulkar who aims to achieve an incredible milestone of 100 international centuries in a match which has historic significance.
The first Test between between number one team India and third ranked England at the hallowed Lord’s can be termed as a statistician’s delight for the sheer milestones in waiting. The series opener happens to be the 100th Test between the two sides and also the 2000th in the history of the game.
If that was not enough, the historic venue could also become a witness to Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century in his 22nd year in Test cricket as the champion batsman is just a ton away from achieving the feat.
But leaving aside all the historical importance associated with the Test, the four-match series is also touted as a fight between two best teams of the world for Test cricket’s top position.
The fickle English weather, however, could play spoilsport as rain is predicted on all the five days of the match which has generated a lot of interest.
While India would be desperate to do whatever it takes to hold on to its numero uno Test status, a series win by a two game margin will see England topple Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men from the pinnacle.
But against a formidable side like England, who have been unbeaten in the last five series at home, it won’t be easy for the Indians, who did very little to impress in the drawn practice match against Somerset at Taunton.
Barring Suresh Raina, who hit a ton, the stars of India’s famed batting line-up, including Tendulkar, did little justice to their reputations, while the bowling department came a cropper accounting for just five Somerset batsmen in two innings.
But what would worry Dhoni more would be the failure of his experienced batting line up, which includes the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
Tendulkar would be pivotal to India’s batting in the absence of Virender Sehwag. Together with Dravid and Laxman, the champion batsman has shared over 35,000 runs in Test cricket and India’s fate in the series would largely depend on the trio’s performance against a potent English attack. Since December 6, 2009 when India became number one Test team, Tendulkar has scored 1722 runs from 15 Tests. But the great man’s record at Lord’s is far from rosy with 37 being his highest at the ‘Mecca’ of cricket.
And Tendulkar, who did not play a Test since January this year, would have do much better to not only help his but also his side’s cause.
But against a fiery English pace attack what India need is a strong star from their openers — inexperienced Abhinav Mukund and Gambhir, who returned to the team after missing the West Indies tour due to a shoulder injury.
Dravid, who failed against Somerset but looked in form in the Carribean, is expected to hold on to one end, while Laxman’s is high on confidence after three half centuries against the West Indies.
Skipper Dhoni might have come under the weather on the Caribbean tour and would be itching to contribute with the bat against England.