Lights, camera, action... stage set for series decider
Sachin, Sourav and Rahul are set to take final international bow as India play their seventh and final ODI against England at Lord's today, reports Amol Karhadkar.Updated: Sep 08, 2007 11:32 IST
The stage is set; the time is now. On Super Saturday, India's gruelling 80-day tour to the United Kingdom will come to an end. On Saturday too, three of the game's greats -Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly - a triumvirate that has given Indians across generations great happiness (and heartbreaks aplenty), are set to take a final international bow at the world's most famous cricket ground.
Given the fact that Indian supporters have often seemed to outnumber those of the hosts throughout this unexpectedly fascinating seven-match ODI series, the game at Lord's on the morrow promises to be an emotional farewell to arms, whatever the result.
The fact that all three are in outstanding form and have contributed in part or in whole to each of India's three wins in the series has only added to the aura around the Lord's game, which, in any case, has taken on the mantle of a final of sorts, since the series is tied 3-3. And if you just take a quick look at some numbers, you will have an idea as to why, even if the personalities overshadow the occasion, for once, it might be fitting.
While England, since playing their first ODI in 1971, have played 476 one-dayers, Tendulkar alone has played 394 to date. If you add Ganguly and Dravid's ODI caps to that, they have 1,021 appearances in all. The 16 members of the current England squad, including Ryan Sidebottom, who hasn't yet featured in the series yet, share 586 caps between them.
And when it comes to runs, the figures are staggering. The threesome has scored 37,061 runs in the shorter version of the game in toto, with 75 centuries between them, just 12 less than the total number of tons scored by England batsmen in their 36-year ODI history.
What makes this exciting from an Indian point of view is that all three would be gunning to bid a fond farewell to Lord's, for differing reasons perhaps. While Ganguly and Dravid sparkled together for the first time on their Test debut here 11 years ago and would want to make it a special last game here, for Tendulkar, seemingly ageless despite all the injuries to his body, the fact that he does not have an international ton here (other than a scintillating 125 in the Diana Memorial match, which wasn't an official ODI, in 1998), might be a motivating factor. For the Indian team as a whole, who seem to have grown from strength to strength and learnt from every disaster, ever since they stepped off the plane onto the George Best international airport tarmac in Belfast, this will be a rare chance to end a multi-series tour without a single series lost.
They have already done very well to come back from being on the verge of losing this series in quick time to ending it on a dream note. Even as a young England squad, who have rallied wonderfully well under the refreshing workmanlike leadership of Paul Collingwood, have waxed and waned, India, initially erratic, have displayed a renewed intensity of body and mind and spirit which has charmed and delighted their fans.
Skipper Dravid was typically understated on the eve of the decider. "Someone's written a good script," he said. An India win on Saturday could make it a bestseller.