Bangalore, Jul 16: The first Test of the four-match series between India and England is significant for more than one reason. It will be the 100th Test between the two countries and the 2,000th overall.
It has been 134 years, since the first ever international Test was played between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and in between the game has seen many a glorious moments that have and will go on to ascertain the format's supremacy over any innovation in the game.
As the world eagerly awaits the 2,000th episode of the cricket's supreme format, we try to squeeze in the top five Tests of all-time. As it can be with all great things, opinions will defer over the selection, but then you are all invited to share your views on the three best Test matches that have ever been played.
Here goes our list in descending order:
Year 1882, Test #9: Australia got the better of England and beat them by seven runs at The Oval. Fred Spofforth took 14 wickets, and had there been Man of the Match award then, then he would have been the lone contender.
The Sporting Times published a mock obituary of English cricket and stated that the body will be cremated and the ashes be taken to Australia. Thus began a cricketing battle for the ages, which goes by the name of the Ashes.
Year 1981, Test #905: Almost a hundred years since the famous Test that gave birth to the Ashes, came another gem of a match between the old rivals Australia and England. This time the venue was Headingley.
If former Australia captain Richie Benaud, who was then commentating for BBC television, is to be believed, then it was "One of the most fantastic victories ever known in Test cricket history."
English legend, Ian Botham came out to bat in England's second innings when they were five wickets down lagging behind Australia by 122 runs. He went on to make a magnificient 149 and thus Australia required only 130 runs to win the match.
But English fast bowler Bob Willis produced one of the best spells of fast bowling to take eight wickets for 43. As a result Australia lost by 18 runs.
Year 2001, Test #1535: Cricket lovers can accuse of being biased towards India for putting this one as the best match ever. But we have our own reasons. First, it involved an Australian team, that can be arguably called as the finest ever Test team. Second, it was up against an opposition that had the talent but somehow had never managed to put up a credible performance.
Third, India were just fresh from yet another mauling by Australians at Mumbai and the loss was enough to aggravate the psychological scars they had from the drubbing they had received from the Aussies in their recently concluded tour to Down Under. Fourth, they had lost a few good players to the match-fixing fiasco and needed to put up a good performance to show that those in the side were honest cricketers. There would be seldom be any other Test match with so much at stake, or if there has been any then we haven't seen that.
No words can do justice to what India did on the final three days of the second test against Australia at Eden Gardens. As another thrashing seemed imminent, Laxman and Dravid played probably the best innings of their life and Harbhajan bowled unbelievably well to give his side an improbable victory.
And if the reasons at the start of the match, coupled with the magnificent effort that both the sides put in was not enough to make the match the best ever, then here is another one. The victory not only brought to an end the invincible run of Steve Waugh's men but also ensured that India began to believe in their abilities and began what has been since then continuing as a golden run.