If a man bats for almost seven hours, fighting away hurtling deliveries, not to mention bad memories, never mind what the end result of the match will be, we doff our caps to him. Being starved of a single century since May 2007 — with a whole pile of 90s lining the trail like broken glass — Sachin Tendulkar scored his 38th Test century in Sydney. His unbeaten 154 was the cream in the dessert that was a defiant Indian innings. It’s not too often that one finds India scoring a 500-plus total against a sub-500 Australian innings in Australia. After the mauling at Melbourne, Indian supporters, along with Indian cricket, looked like wet laundry set to dry. Friday’s performance showed that there is something special, something to ra-ra about, in the Indian team after all. It was much more than just pluck that Harbhajan Singh showed with his delightful career-best knock of 63 at a time when the script seemed to have been exchanged once again for the usual comi-tragedy. Arriving at a time when the scoreboard was reading an uncomfortable 345 for 7, a knobbly 118 runs behind the Australian score of 463, few expected Singh to do the damage control required after the quick departures of Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh. M.S. Dhoni and Anil Kumble. But he delivered.
The reason we sound as if we’re pleased as punch and as if India has already avenged the defeat of the First Test is not because we now have decided to keep our bar raised to a bare minimum — that is, a good day’s play. Our reason for congratulating the team is that after giving hopelessness a billboard-sized advertisement against the best team in the world, Team India finally looked like they can take on the Aussie side in the batting department. The problem, whispered prior to the tour, was our bowling prowess. Pitted against the finest batting machine that the world has arguably produced, Kumble’s boys supposedly needed to bundle out the opposition if they had to win. That logic still stands. But with the bowlers doing more than fine even in the ‘Let’s-forget-the-Melbourne-Test-shall-we?’, it was the legendary batting line-up that failed India in the first encounter. Despite the solid Tendulkar-Ganguly partnership in the first innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, it was again raring to collapse. It didn’t.
By the time you read this editorial, the Aussies have either managed to put up a decent score or haven’t. The match will be decided in the next few hours’ play. Or if we have a really exciting Test at hand, the next day. Either way, we have an exciting Test match going on. And that is worth the ra-ra in this editorial — despite the ugly verbal spat between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.