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Eden Test: Sachin's 199th... and little else

Last updated on: November 05, 2013 12:13 IST

Eden Test: Sachin's 199th... and little else

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Bikash Mohapatra

The hoopla surrounding Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell, says Bikash Mohapatra, has completely camouflaged what could be a mismatched series, as the West Indies team neither has the pedigree nor players to get past M S Dhon’s side.

Two years back, when India faced the West Indies in the second Test at the EdenGardens, Sachin Tendulkar was on the cusp of history.

The Master Blaster was on the verge of scoring a hundred international hundreds. Enough reason for sports-loving fans in Kolkata to fill the stadium.

They were left disappointed, though. Tendulkar failed to reach the milestone in the said Test. The story was the same five months later, in an Asia Cup match (against Bangladesh) at Mirpur.

On Wednesday, India take on the Caribbeans again at Eden, in the opening Test of the two-match series. Again, Tendulkar is on the verge of making history. Yes, again, the passionate Kolkata crowd won’t be able to see the feat happen at India’s oldest ground, since the batting ace plays his 200th Test on his home ground (the Wankhede).


Image: An Indian cricket supporter kneels in front of a wax figure of Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters

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However, disappointment has made way for celebration in the City of Joy. So what if Tendulkar expectedly preferred to play his final Test on his home ground. He is playing his penultimate Test at the Eden and the locals are celebrating with a lot of enthusiasm.

It is this celebration, and the hoopla surrounding the Master, that has completely camouflaged what is essentially going to be a lopsided series. In fact, the same is an ad hoc series, organised to ensure Tendulkar gets to play the landmark Test on home soil – remember, he was earlier scheduled to play it during India’s tour of South Africa later in the year – and gets a perfect farewell for what’s been a glittering career.

Otherwise, this series could be a mismatch of sorts. For, this West Indies team neither has the pedigree nor players to get past this Indian side, definitely not in the sub-continent conditions.


Image: Candles spelling out a message about Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters

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Yes, the Caribbeans do have a few old warhorses in their ranks – the likes of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Tino Best, and also a couple of promising youngsters in Darren Bravo and Kieran Powell. However, it is experience that they lack.

Even though the West Indies still enjoys a huge advantage in head-to-head against India – with 30 wins as opposed to just 14 losses – the difference is largely due to their dominant sides of the 1970s and 1980s.

For starters, the West Indies last beat India in a Test match back in May 2002. In the 13 Tests played in the 11 years since, India won six, and that includes successive series wins away from home.

The visitors’ record is even worse when it comes to their results on Indian wickets. The last instance of a West Indies team winning a Test in India came in December 1994, when Jimmy Adams – with 174 not out and 78 not out – and Kenny Benjamin – with an eight-wicket match-haul – inspired them to a 243-run win at the PCA stadium in Mohali. India has won four of the six Tests since.

Their glorious heyday ensures the West Indies still holds an upper hand in the nine Tests played at the EdenGardens, winning three of them as against two losses. However, the last of those wins – by an innings and 46 runs – came back in 1983.

In fact, in the last Test between the two teams at the venue, mentioned at the start of this preview, India were comprehensive winners, by an innings and 15 runs, this despite Tendulkar’s failure.


Image: Captain Darren Sammy (centre) of the West Indies speaks to his players
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Tendulkar may or may not succeed with the bat in the upcoming match. However, another Indian win seems a foregone conclusion, especially considering the prime form MS Dhoni’s men are in at the moment.

Having said that, there is something the West Indies can look to for inspiration.

Last year, when England landed up at the Eden Gardens they had an equally awful recent record on Indian wickets and an even worse record at the venue. Alastair Cook’s team went on to defy all the odds to comprehensively win the match and thereby seal the series.

To expect the West Indies to win might be a bit far-fetched. A draw seems a much more realistic option and a respectable one too.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

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