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This will not be a cakewalk

With the No 1 Test spot up for grabs, stakes are high in the eagerly awaited four-match series that will begin at Lord's today. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports. Championship test | Why is it the unofficial Test championship?

india Updated: Jul 21, 2011 01:25 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Imagine this. India play England to mark the 2000th game in Test history which, incidentally, is also the 100th Test between the two countries. Sachin Tendulkar walks to the middle, wields the willow and scores his 100th hundred.

For any cricket buff, this will be a dream come true.

But this is no dream, with England doing well in Tests, they will be no pushovers. And it is more than just a coincidence that India (the top Test team), and not Australia, are playing the historic Test against England.

With the No 1 Test spot up for grabs, stakes are high in the eagerly awaited four-match series that will begin at Lord's on Thursday.

Both teams are closely matched, but the hosts can snatch the top ranking from India if they win the series by a margin of two.

Millions of fans in India and elsewhere will be glued to the action for another reason --- to see whether Sachin Tendulkar gets his 100th international century.

The maestro skipped the low-key West Indies tour, which means he can hope to get the landmark century at Lord's --- a venue where he is yet to score a hundred.

The victors will walk away with the tag of the unofficial champion team --- definitely in the eyes of the cricket loving public all over the world.

The series is also expected to prove a commercial windfall for all concerned - official broadcaster ESPNStar is expected to rake in around Rs 200 crore.

If Sachin gets that century, it will again re-open the popular debate on who is the greatest batsman after Don Bradman (52 Tests - Average 99.94).

Only three other batsmen ever signed off with 60-plus career averages --- West Indies' George Headley (22 Tests -- 60.83), South Africa's Graeme Pollock (23 Tests -- 60.97) and England's Herbert Sutcliffe (54 Tests -- 60.73).

Current England batsman Jonathan Trott averages 62.23 in 21 Tests, but Tendulkar averages a whopping 56.94 after playing a record 177 matches spread across almost 22 years.