Eventually, a Test is a Test is a Test. The limited overs games, with all their mandatory limitations and conditions fixed to assure a result, can never match a real Test, spread over five days, two separate innings. A little like having instant coffee and real Madras coffee. Perhaps, it is in the fitness of things that Madras, above all other Indian cities, was destined to have the tie Test.
And how fitting and poetic the whole thing has been. Only the day before yesterday all of cricketing India was saying that there was no pleasure left in Test cricket. That the only cricket the public would pay for, or even watch free on TV, was limited overs.
I was one of them, I will admit. First, through yesterday morning, most of the time I did not recall that the Test had not yet concluded in Madras. Then, towards afternoon, as Gavaskar, at his methodical best, went on piling runs, there was a slight interest in his getting one more century, making his record more durable.
Then the news of overs and runs started filtering into the office from other departments with ears glued to transistors, from visitors coming in from the outside world of restaurants and radios. India seemed to be on the verge of winning. Ah! The glorious uncertainties of cricket and Kapil Dev's fortunes. Gavaskar went and others came…and went. The countdown for the mandatory overs had begun. The news kept coming in, exuberantly, chattering away on the PTI machines. This time to the number of runs and the number of wickets. The Indian tail, for a change, quite long, was at the crease. Besides possibilities of winning and drawing, there were also possibilities of losing.
Outside, the world seemed to have come to a standstill. The streets were empty, like they would be during Sunday evening TV films, if Raj Kapoor were to permit his films to be shown. Suspense, that only a great sports combat can generate, was at its peak.
The rest, of course, is history. A dead-heat, a tie; it will be written and re-written by our eminent cricket correspondents till it be comes dead bore, as most cricket incidents do in the hands of all our cricket correspondents except tow and possibly three.
But, for the moment, there is the pleasure of a game well fought and neither won nor lost nor drawn. Nor abandoned. And, to bring banck one of the oft-used phrases-cricket has won. Only, this time, it is Test cricket.