Interesting to see if Sachin can keep emotions at bay

Remarkable as the statistics may be — Test cricket’s 2000th match, which is also the 100th between India and England, is to be played at Lord’s — there are at least two great Indians who did not fare too well at the spiritual headquarters of the game.

Sunil Gavaskar never scored a Test hundred there while Sachin Tendulkar has not crossed 37 in a Test on the hallowed turf.
Gavaskar played his longest innings there in the Bicentenary Test. The opening great could not even formally retire from Test cricket earlier in the year because the game between MCC and the Rest of the World was only for current cricketers.
Only a few in his inner circle and those in the media whom he took into confidence knew his remarkable 96 in Bengaluru was his final Test innings.
There was the merest suspicion that Dickie Bird was so aware of history that he was charitable in turning down a leg before decision that he may have ruled out nine times out of ten. It didn’t take long for Gavaskar, that great accumulator of runs, to seize upon the opportunity to run up a mammoth 188.
The modern master has seen a similar lack of runs at Lord’s. Having played there from 1990, Sachin is yet to make a big score there. That he is only one short of 100 tons in international cricket makes it even more intriguing. When the sun shines on the turf of St. John’s Wood Road, batsmen have been known to prosper. Somehow, the best of the moderns have been the exception.
It is to be seen if the Little Master can put away the emotions of a special occasion behind him and beat the jinx that has built up around his performances in the world’s most famous cricket ground, also one of the game’s oldest although it is currently in its third location that Thomas Lord picked for it. Sourav Ganguly surprised the cricket world by scoring a century on Test debut there in 1996. Thought to have been lucky to make the squad, he disproved all doubters with one of the finest and assured innings by a newcomer to the ground. As a batsman born and bred on Bengal’s slow seaming pitches, Sourav was completely at ease.
Rahul Dravid would have followed him as the second centurion on debut at Lord’s, which would have been a historic first of two debut centurions in the same Test innings. Before Ganguly, only two batsmen, including John Hampshire of England, had registered debut tons at Lord’s. But he did a most selfless sacrifice to the spirit of the game. He walked.
Just five short of his hundred, Dravid, over time to become the classicist who achieved the significant double of 10,000 plus in Tests and ODIs, chose to trudge to the pavilion on nicking the faintest of edges off Chris Lewis to Jack Russell, spending more than nine hours at the crease in his two innings.
We had another fond reason to remember the ’96 Test as it was the last Test for that lovable cricket eccentric, Dickie Bird. He had walked in to a guard of honour at the start and as his last decision he ruled Russell out leg before to Ganguly’s gentle seamer.
Cricket was the poorer for the retirement of such a personality as Bird, who once cried bitterly on my shoulder because England had qualified for the World Cup final in 1987 and hence he could not officiate in a fourth straight final.
The interesting question right now is where will Tendulkar make his 100th century. Will he make it at Lord’s or would we have to wait a bit longer for a Test or ODI in England in what is being projected there as the Indian Summer? It would certainly live up to the billing if Sachin delights us with his century of centuries, particularly if it comes in a winning cause in the theatre of Test cricket.

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