It was a match that promised a lot. Its opening day had all those dramatic twists and turns which make Test cricket such a fascinating spectacle to watch. First, wickets got knocked out of the ground as batsmen succumbed to the seam and movement of the ball and their own indiscretions. Then, we watched an awesome counterattack which restored the balance in favour of the batsmen. What made the contest even more gripping was the rapidity with which the wickets fell and then the galloping pace with which runs were scored.
Five days later, this Test match lies buried under mounds of runs, records and centuries. It sure helped batsmen to multiply their averages but made a sucker of the fan and reduced bowlers to tears. What a sad advertisement for Tests, which we all fear is a dying form and the last thing it needs is meaningless contests like the Ahmedabad Test that test the patience of the fan and makes bowlers wonder are they needed at all?
It almost seems like there is a conspiracy to finish Test cricket in India. For the administrators it seems to be an unwarranted burden and the sooner it dies the better for them, so that they can expand and enlarge their IPL and Champions League events.
If this seems farfetched then why should India be playing a Test match after a gap of almost a year? And, knowing that spectator interest is waning, why should a Test be scheduled from Monday to Friday, leaving out the weekends that draw crowds for obvious reasons?
But what is hurting Tests the most are wickets which are designed to give bowlers sleepless nights and make batsmen score at will, leaving no scope for an even contest. We have seen what thrilling series Australia and England played recently, drawing crowds not only at the grounds but even hooking fans to TV screens across the cricketing globe.
Instead of making the five-day game more viewer-friendly it is a shame that the richest board in the world chooses to roll out a featherbed which will only strengthen the argument of those who say Test cricket has no future. That is why one almost sees the board's complicity in ignoring these vital aspects of the game. They call themselves marketing wizards, but when it comes to Tests, they just treat it like an orphaned child whom no one wants to own.
On the opening day, Rahul Dravid had played a gem of an innings, his finest in the last couple of years, to extricate India from a difficult situation. On the final day, Tendulkar celebrated his 20 years in Test cricket with a hundred. But what would sadden and hurt them the most is the way the Indian Board is allowing Tests to die a slow death.