London, July 20: From India's maiden encounter against their Imperial masters in 1932, a Test series against England has always captured the imagination of the game's fan-following in both nations. Now the contest between these two great cricketing sides has come full circle, with No. 1 ranked India visiting Ole Blighty as the ostensible masters of the game.
The feast of epochs that the first Test of India's 2011 tour of England beginning tomorrow will mark, has been overshadowed by Sachin Tendulkar's impending 100th international century. Indeed, all eyes will be on the Little Master to see if he can set probably the game's most incredible record ever. His wait for completing this landmark achievement coincides with the duration since India's 1990 tour of England, during which he scored the very first of his 99 tons.
A fortnight before Sachin reached the three-figure mark, and 21 years ago almost to the week, India were subjected to a telling defeat at that hands of Graham Gooch's England. In that encounter, Gooch recorded a career-high of 333 and his side reached home by a mammoth 247 runs. India for their part, may have lost the match, but they demonstrated ominous flashes of exuberance that would set them on their way to world domination.
After all, it was in that Test that India's enterprising captain Mohammad Azharuddin launched a counter-offensive with his bat, while Kapil Dev blasted four sixes to save India from following on and Sachin, the 17-year-old prodigy took a marvelous, one-handed, running catch.
Now with another scintillating contest on the cards at Lords, the match-up between the hosts and the visitors promises to be a much closer affair than what those torrid days could dish out. India may be still a little shell-shocked from their mauling at the hands of Somerset a few days ago.
But India has broken the jinx of its past failures on the big stage, testimony to which stands the fact that India have lost just 2 out of the 15 series they have played since their 2007 triumph in England.
However, England too are in defiant run of form, with seven series wins and a draw in eight outings since May 2009, which means that the upcoming contest should be the most intense tangle since the Ashes 2005.