In two days, we witnessed two beautiful Test matches – edge of your seat thrillers where all the results were in play, one resulting in a successful chase and the other in a successful defence.
Two Tests featuring the same set of rivals who battled in the iconic 1983 World Cup semi-finals. India, who played England, and West Indies, who slugged it out with Pakistan.
The fortunes of Team India and due to sheer populace of cricket has changed post-1983 and though West Indies hasn’t gone in the same direction, it was heartening to see both these teams emerge to their wins.
Another common denominator, both these games were highlighted by the performances from those men who make more music with leather and not with willow. Actually, in their daily lives, they go after the ones wielding the willow as those four men are primarily bowlers.
These four men were Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. If anyone had said it that they would have any of these guys to bat for their life, that person should automatically upgraded to clairvoyant status.
This August has been a glory month for India in terms of sports. There have been both individual and team accolades that came India’s way so much so that this month has had number of first times for Indian sports.
A country of 1.3 billion and few hundred million living on foreign shores, have always supported and rooted for not-so-dominant performances from their country in the past but things are changing and Indians, for once, have started taking sports seriously and they are a potent career option for the youth.
Indian sports also displayed a gamut for the youth this month where they can ply their trade. For now, let’s get back to the gentlemen’s game.
India won the second Test match at Lord’s with eight overs to spare.
The poetic justice was served to the Indians from the land of William Wordsworth and countless other English poets who adorned and enriched the language with their words of wisdom as the rain Gods had spoiled India’s party and deprived them of taking the lead in the series and not just India, no cricket fan ever likes the rain taking the contest out and that this came at the Mecca of cricket, Lord’s, was that much sweeter.
It was almost like the Lord was smiling and testing the resilience of Virat Kohli’s men and even coach Ravi Shastri whose love for the bubbly is legendary so much so that he had offered to play the role of Bunty in the remake of Bunty and Babli (Bubbly) thinking he will get to romance Bubbly.
Indians haven’t been the greatest starters in most series they have played over the years. They are historically known to take the first Test for granted invariably and then wake up from their slumber in the second Test, especially in foreign conditions.
This year has been different.
Indians have been in England twiddling their thumbs for more than a month and almost started believing that they are playing in home conditions and how ironic that this Lord’s triumph came on the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from England, as if reminding the Brits that it is now India’s turn to pay back.
However, this is about the triumph of Test cricket yet again.
Just when generation X had started anointing T20, T10, The Hundred, US Minor League (followed by Major League) and various franchise cricket leagues that have been dominating the eyeballs of cricket crazy people as real cricket and dismissing Test cricket as boring, Test cricket – be it in Brisbane, Chittagong, Kingston, Lord’s or Southampton – has served the reminder that it is still the purest form of the gentlemen’s game and it is a reminder to everyone who love this game that the connoisseurs of the game would always prefer that multi-course spread over fast food.
Test cricket is like a marriage or a marathon which has its own share of ups and downs and needs to be planned and nurtured well. League cricket is like running 100m, 200m and acceleration right from word go is the key.
Test cricket is about taking it one session at a time and people fell in love with the gentlemen’s game while watching Test cricket and not the other way around.
These Test matches are the reiteration that the five-day format is here to stay and is the best form of entertainment. Purists will tell you men in whites with red cherry in hand and wooden willows to belt the leather is what you envision when you say cricket.
Englishmen not named Joe Root or James Anderson need to show up to the party in the next three games.
They have lost Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Joffra Arche,r but then injuries are part and parcel of the game. In the Lord’s Test, they started their second innings dismally, with both the openers deciding to not trouble the scorers.
Haseeb Hameed’s return was anticipated and it was anything but that.
Joe Root has shown in this series why he is now the second all-time highest scorer for the country that has been credited with the invention of the beautiful game.
The series isn’t over but the confidence and skills that Team India has shown for at least 80 per cent of the days in this series so far, they are more than ready for the fight. If anything, the Englishmen need to step up and try and deliver the counter-punches.
If they don’t, the series will be over before you realise and since this series is the beginning of the new WTC cycle, India already would have a leg up.
Kohli and his band have learnt a lesson or two and are playing the English conditions well. Bumrah, who was called names after the WTC final, has returned to lead the red-ball attack and Shami and Siraj and old warhorse Ishant Sharma are a more than adequate chorus.
The body language of most of the guys is looking solid as ever. Rohit Sharma and Kohli are back to standing next to each other and the awkwardness seems gone.
Siraj brings a certain exuberance to the team and the rather well behaved Bumrah hasn’t been shy in showing Jos Buttler who’s boss.