Where There's Life

Still convalescing after my encounter with the surgeon's knife early in the month (what's usually described as a 'minor' operation, although the immediate post-operative pain was anything but minor), I've had a bit of time this week to follow the first game of the India-Sri Lanka Test series, which was called off as a draw this morning once Sachin Tendulkar had reached his 43rd Test hundred.

It was a counter-intuitive affair; the type of Test which, on the face of it, you'd say was certain to drive another nail into the coffin which the likes of Peter Roebuck have been cobbling together for the five-day game recently: 426 plays 760 plays 412. Too many runs, too few wickets, everyone's bored.

Or perhaps not. Until the last day the scoring rate was excellent and there was a series of innings whose merits went well beyond mere accumulation; Rahul Dravid showing he can still mix it with the best in the world (like Mahela Jayawardene) for both strokeplay, and, of course, concentration, Gautam Gambhir emphasizing again how far he's come and how indispensable he now appears at the top of the Indian order, the one and only SRT, twenty years a Test player and counting, doing what he does best these days, building a ton without fuss in benign conditions and slamming the door shut in Sri Lanka's face. There were even a few people there to watch.

Well, I enjoyed it (even if nobody else did), and it'll do to be going on with, but we, and the Test game itself, will need more if it's to sustain itself into an uncertain future. Much is made of the fact that England's the only country left where Test grounds are routinely full, despite the insane cost of tickets, but it needs to be remembered that usually, in England, wickets fall.

But where there's life there's hope, and this game showed that India's ageing order still has plenty of life. The strands of hope, though, need to be supplemented by a strip with a bit more life in the next match at Green Park in Kanpur.

I'll not be holding my breath.

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