England’s Tour Of India, 2012
First test, Motera, Ahmedabad
An India-England Test series is not always preceded by the amount of hype surrounding this particular tour. That the first test will be played at Motera, Ahmedabad- a stadium that has witnessed many historical (statistical) landmarks over the years, only adds to what is being termed as the ‘Revenge’ Series. The last time they played a Test Series (England-India) India was blanked 4-0 in what was to be the beginning of the end of their golden phase.
The SuperKings invade Motera
The Sardar Patel Stadium (Motera) is currently playing host to a practice tour game between England and Haryana. This, in hindsight, is quite a bone thrown by the BCCI to a touring team- allowing them to play at the same venue days before the official series begins. With Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott- two players key to any sort of prospective test success scoring centuries and warming up well, the English Cricket team is almost prepared to take on Team India at Ahmedabad. ‘Almost’, because England have not yet been exposed to any sort of quality spin in their three practice games, and only when the first test begins on 15th November, 2012- will there be any indication about any other devious plans that the Indian team management may have up its sleeve.
Over the years, the Sardar Patel stadium- though not prone to creating nail biting battles in Test Cricket (either a high-scoring draw or a one-sided win)- has hosted the maximum amount of International cricket matches after Eden Gardens in this country. Many Indian fans will remember the fact that Sachin Tendulkar scored his maiden Test double-century here against New Zealand in 1999.
A sign of things to come
But those same fans will also remember that Gary Kirsten’s first match in charge ended in one of India’s heaviest defeats in Test history v/s South Africa back in 2008 when India was bowled out for a meager 76 in their first innings. That AB De Villiers scored a double in the same match, rendered this ground haunted for a couple of years after the trauma. India managed to pull one back in Nagpur, thanks to a tailor-made pitch, but they will never forget that chaotic first morning at Motera. Just a year later, the same pitch made India concede more than 700 runs to a Jayawardene-powered Sri Lankan team in a Test Match that almost killed Test Cricket altogether. Other records like Gavaskar reaching his 10000th test run here, and Kapil Dev breaking Hadlee’s record of wickets- will also go down as on the privileged plates at the stadium entrance.
Who can forget Rahul Dravid’s splendid ODI century to take India home in a series v/s West Indies back in 2002, where he had the one-match wonder Sanjay Bangar to give him company and chase down a total of 325- India’s highest chase effort back then. They eventually lost the series 4-3.
Most recently, not many will forget the epic India-Australia World Cup Quarterfinal, where Team India took their biggest and first step towards the trophy- thanks to heroics by Yuvraj and Raina. It was also the scene of Ricky Ponting’s last international ODI century in the same game- apart from Sachin reaching 18000 ODI runs during his half-century in the same match.
Let the records begin
With these fresh memories of their most significant limited-overs success, Team India will now begin a new era- that of rebuilding, resizing and structure- against an English team that is in the same phase after annihilating them back in England last year.
There could be no better venue for the first match of another beginning, and a change of guard in Indian Cricket.