Kapil Dev being awarded the 1983 Prudential World Cup. (Photo credit: Twitter @BCCI)
India has come a long way since it gained independence on the 15th of August, 1947 and is ranked amongst the global superpowers today. In conjunction with the glorious rise of the country has been the rise and growth of cricket – a legacy of the British which is now an integral part of India’s DNA and culture and perhaps the only religion which unites a 1.3 billion-plus nation. As the nation celebrates its 75th Independence Day, News9 looks back at the country’s 20 greatest cricketing achievements and milestones in these seven and a half decades.
February, 1952 – The Maiden Test Win
It took India nearly four and a half years from independence to overcome their erstwhile colonial masters in what was their first-ever victory in Test cricket. It was the onset of spring in February, 1952 when the great all-rounder Vinoo Mankad returned with 8-55 in 38.5 overs as England were dismissed for 266 in the first innings of the fifth and final Test in Chennai. Two splendid hundreds – 111 by Pankaj Roy and an undefeated 130 by Polly Umrigar batting at number 7 helped India amass 457. Mankad again picked four in the second and along with off-spinner Ghulam Ahmed (4-77) routed England for 183. India were victorious by an innings and eight runs. It was a landmark moment in India’s cricketing history – their first Test win in a series-levelling effort against a country which had ruled them for nearly 200 years!
October, 1952 – The First Test Series Win
It was again that great all-rounder from Jamnagar in Gujarat who played a pivotal role both with the bat and ball in India’s first series win in Test cricket. Vinoo Mankad returned a career-best 13-131 and along with fine support acts from Vijay Hazare and Hemu Adhikari led India to a crushing innings and 70 runs win over Pakistan in the series opener in Delhi. The visitors fought back and leveled the series in Lucknow but hundreds from Hazare and Umrigar and another high impact all-round performance by Mankad (41 & unbeaten 35 and 8-124) gave India a massive 10-wicket win at the Brabourne in Mumbai. The fourth and fifth Tests ended in draws. India had recorded their first series win after eight unsuccessful attempts.
December, 1959 – The First Win Vs Australia
Nari Contractor and off-spinner Jasubhai Patel scripted a significant moment in India’s Test history in Kanpur giving high impact performances in their team’s first Test win against Australia. While Contractor scored a fine 74 in the second innings, Patel returned with 14 wickets in the match including nine in the first innings. After suffering seven defeats (and drawing two matches), India had finally tasted success against an Australian unit comprising of Neil Harvey, Alan Davidson, and Richie Benaud in their tenth attempt.
February-March, 1968 – First Overseas Test and Series Victory
After a drought of 43 matches, India finally recorded their first overseas Test win under the legendary Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (Tiger Pataudi) against New Zealand at Dunedin in 1968. Farokh Engineer’s enterprising 63 coupled with Ajit Wadekar’s 80 helped India overhaul the total of 350 posted by the hosts in the first innings. It was then time for the Erapalli Prasanna show as he returned with 6-94 in 40 overs in the second innings and bundled New Zealand for 208. India, chasing 200, lost their openers early and it was again the man for a crisis – Wadekar (71) who paired with Rusi Surti (44) and put together a 103-run stand for the third wicket, finally taking India to a sensational five-wicket victory.
Ajit Wadekar was India’s star with the bat in their first Test match win in Dunedin (Pic: AFP)
New Zealand leveled the series at Christchurch. Prasanna and Surti restricted the hosts to 186 in the first innings at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, but it was again Wadekar, who produced the match-defining performance with his brilliant 143 in the first innings. Bapu Nadkarni, one of the most restrictive spinners in the history of Test cricket, returned 6-43 in 30 overs bamboozling the Kiwis in the second innings paving the way for an Indian win. The visitors dominated the fourth Test in Auckland with Prasanna’s eight-wicket haul the standout performance of the match – India won by an emphatic margin of 272 runs and took the series 3-1. It was a defining chapter in the country’s cricketing history!
February, 1971 – First Series Win Against West Indies
That India were the underdogs when they reached the shores of the Caribbean in 1971 was a massive understatement! West Indies had dominated India and led the head-to-head 12-0 winning all the previous five series between the two teams. However, it was time that the history books were re-written under the leadership of Wadekar. Dilip Sardesai’s magnificent 112 gave India a big lead in the first innings of the second Test at Port of Spain. Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan made significant contributions with the ball and Sunil Gavaskar, on Test debut, gave early glimpses of his talent with a couple of fine fifties in the match, as the visitors registered their first Test win against the West Indies by seven wickets. As it turned out, this was the only result-Test of the five-match series. India had registered their first series win against the West Indies.
The series gave birth to a new sensation in Indian cricket – the original Boy Wonder! Gavaskar piled on 774 runs with four hundreds – it is still the highest aggregate by an Indian batsman in any Test series. His highest impact knock came at Port of Spain when he came out to bat under pressure and smashed a magnificent 220 in the second innings to take the team to a position of strength from where they dictated the match.
August, 1971 – First Series Win Against England
Maverick leg-break genius, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar returned with 6-38 in the second innings at The Oval to take India to their first Test victory in England. As it panned out, it was the only result of the series. It was Lucky 7 for India as they won their first series in England on their seventh visit to the nation. Interestingly, it was Wadekar who led India to this historic triumph!
June 25, 1983 – India Win the World Cup
The greatest sporting event in the history of independent India – a moment that not only changed the sporting landscape but also reshaped the country and its outlook forever! India beat the formidable two-time defending champions West Indies in the final at Lord’s on the 25th of June to lift the 1983 World Cup. There were many heroes in this colossal win – from Kapil Dev, their inspirational captain, who produced that stunning unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe (then the highest score in ODIs) at Turnbridge Wells to Roger Binny – the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, from Madan Lal’s big-match temperament to Sandeep Patil – the highest impact batsman for India in the tournament, from Yashpal Sharma – the top-scorer in three big matches to Mohinder Amarnath – the best all-rounder in the knockout phases. It was a complete team performance which came about through some inspired performances with almost every member chipping in – a sort of infectious team camaraderie very rarely seen in a world event.
March 10, 1985 – India Beat Pakistan in the Final of the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket
The historic 1983 World Cup win was followed by another big win for India at a world event – India beat arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets at the MCG to win the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket – a major one-day tournament involving the top-7 cricketing nations. Kris Srikkanth top-scored in the final, just as he did in the final at Lord’s two years ago. However, it was Ravi Shastri who was the Player of the Tournament for his brilliant and consistent all-round effort – he had aggregate of 182 runs, including three fifties while also returning with eight wickets in the tournament.
March 7, 1987 – Gavaskar becomes First to Scale Mount 10,000 in Test Cricket
Sunil Gavaskar unleashed a new chapter in the annals of Test cricket and became the first batsman to reach the magical landmark of 10000 runs in the format, achieving the feat during the Motera Test in Ahmedabad against Pakistan in 1987.
January-February, 1993 – The 3-0 Sweep against England and Beginning of Home Domination
Mohammed Azharuddin silenced his critics and smashed a scintillating 182 off just 197 deliveries in the series opener at the Eden Gardens. The spin trio of Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan then took over and decimated the England batting line-up. An eight-wicket win in Kolkata was followed by massive innings victories in Chennai and Mumbai. It was India’s first series sweep in a three-plus Test series against any opposition anywhere in the world. The victory marked the beginning of India’s domination at home. They remained unbeaten in a bilateral home series in the entire decade of the 1990s. Kumble returned with 21 wickets in the series and went on to become one of the all-time greats of the game. Raju bagged 16 wickets while Chauhan chipped in with nine.
February 8, 1994 – Kapil Dev Becomes the Highest Wicket-Taker in Test Cricket
Kapil Dev broke the long-standing record of Richard Hadlee and became the leading wicket-taker in Test history when he dismissed Hashan Tillakaratne during the third Test against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad in 1994. It was wicket number 432 for the Haryana Hurricane!
March 27, 1994 – A Star is Born – Sachin Tendulkar Opens for the First Time in ODI Cricket
An injury to Navjot Sidhu and a masterstroke by skipper Mohammad Azharuddin ushered in a new era for Indian cricket on the 27th day of March at Eden Park in Auckland. Sachin Tendulkar made his debut as an opener and hammered a breathtaking 82 off just 49 deliveries smashing 15 fours and two sixes. The innings gave birth to Tendulkar – the ODI opener – and he went on to amass 15310 runs for India in 344 matches at an average of 48.29 from the position. 45 of his 49 hundreds in the format came at the top of the order for the country and he ended his career ranked amongst the greatest ODI batsmen in the game’s history.
February 7, 1999 – Kumble’s Perfect 10
Anil Kumble became the second bowler in Test cricket history (after Jim Laker in 1956) to pick all 10 opposition wickets in an innings. He achieved the remarkable feat on Day 4 of the Ferozshah Kotla Test in Delhi against Pakistan when his 10-74 in the second innings gave India a massive 212-run victory. Ajaz Patel of New Zealand joined Laker and Kumble in the record books when he emulated the great men bagging all 10 wickets against India in the first innings at the Wankhede in December 2021.
March 11, 2001 – India’s Greatest Test Win
India rewrote the history books becoming only the third team ever to win a Test after being asked to follow-on achieving this sensational feat against a world-beating Australian unit at the Eden Gardens in 2001. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid stitched together one of the great partnerships in red-ball cricket adding 376 in the second innings before Turbanator Harbhajan Singh bamboozled the Australian line-up returning 6-73 on Day 5. India scripted a stunning 171-run victory and leveled the series at 1-1. There was more drama as the home team defeated Australia by two wickets in a cliffhanger in Chennai to take the series 2-1. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy, 2000-2001 is widely considered to be amongst the finest Test series ever played between any two nations. It ushered in a new era in India’s cricketing history.
December, 2006 – The First Test Win in South Africa
South Africa was one of the toughest overseas venues for teams from the sub-continent with just one win combined in 24 matches (Pakistan won in Durban in 1998). India had never been victorious in a Test match in the country and in many ways, it was the Final Frontier for them. Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar helped India to a competitive 249 in the first innings. And then it was the S Sreesanth show! Having just made his Test debut earlier in the year, he produced one of the highest impact performances by an Indian pacer in SENA to dismiss Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, and Jacques Kallis in his opening spell before returning to get rid of Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock. His five-wicket haul routed South Africa for 84 which was their lowest score at home in 50 years! Sreesanth again broke the backbone of their top-order by getting rid of Smith, Amla, and Kallis in the second innings. India recorded a historic first win in South Africa – in their tenth Test – by 123 runs.
September 24, 2007 – India Win the T20 World Cup
The 24th of September, 2007 not only changed India’s outlook towards the then newly introduced T20 format but transformed the sport itself! An MS Dhoni-led Indian unit beat arch-rivals Pakistan in a thriller of a final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg to lift the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup. There were many heroes for India – while Gautam Gambhir top-scored with a magnificent 75 in the final, Irfan Pathan was the Player of the Match for his fine spell of 3-16 in 4 overs. RP Singh was India’s leading-wicket taker and bagged 12 wickets at a strike rate of just 12 in the series, whereas Yuvraj Singh lit the tournament with two smashing half-centuries, which included the world record six sixes against Stuart Broad and a match-defining 70 off 30 deliveries against Australia in the semi-final.
The nail-biting win, by a mere five runs, not only put a healing touch on the disappointment of India’s early exit from the 50-over World Cup earlier in the year in the Caribbean but had far-reaching consequences for the game and the country’s dominance as the powerhouse in world cricket. India’s victory laid the platform for the mega launch and successful implementation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 which has since become one of the most significant and lucrative sporting events of the calendar anywhere in the world. The mushrooming of different T20 leagues across the globe and the power and space they now control somewhere have their roots all linked to that glorious day in Johannesburg in 2007.
MS Dhoni-led India won the T20 World Cup in 2007. (Photo Credit: Twitter @BCCI)
April 2, 2011 – India Win their Second 50-over World Cup
India rose to the expectations of more than a billion people and lifted the prestigious 50-over World Cup for a second time creating unprecedented joy and euphoria in the country. MS Dhoni won his second world title as India defeated Sri Lanka in the final at a packed Wankhede on Marine Drive in Mumbai. Chasing 275, India lost their famed opening duo of Tendulkar and Sehwag early, but Gautam Gambhir (97) and Dhoni (91 not out off 79 balls) not only resurrected the innings but took India to the brink of victory with a brilliant 109-run stand for the fourth wicket. Yuvraj Singh was the highest impact all-rounder of the series and hammered 362 runs at a strike rate of 86.19 with one hundred and four fifties while also bagging 15 wickets at an average of 25.13 and an economy rate of just 5.02. Tendulkar played his part and was India’s highest impact batsman of the tournament while Zaheer Khan was the highest impact bowler of the edition.
Yuvraj Singh enveloped India skipper MS Dhoni in a hug after the latter’s World Cup-winning six. (Photo: AFP)
March 16, 2012 – Tendulkar became the First Batter to register 100 International Hundreds
Sachin Tendulkar scaled yet another peak in his glorious career and became the first batsman in cricket history to record 100 international hundreds. The king of aggregates achieved this landmark feat in an Asia Cup encounter against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2012.
June 23, 2013 – India Win the Champions Trophy
MS Dhoni did what no other captain has done in international history! He completed a unique treble when he took India to a thrilling five-run win against hosts England in a rain-curtailed final in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston in 2013. Dhoni added another world trophy to his cabinet after leading India to famous wins in the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup. Shikhar Dhawan was the standout player in the tournament with 363 runs including two hundreds from five matches.
December 2018-January 2019 & December 2020-January 2021 – Two Historic Wins Down Under
India’s First Series Win in Australia (2018-19)
Cheteshwar Pujara’s 123 was the standout performance of India’s 31-run victory in the series opener at the Adelaide Oval. Australia leveled at Perth, but it was once again India’s new wall at number 3 who registered his second hundred of the series at the MCG, and along with an inspired Jasprit Bumrah (nine wickets in the match) took India to a comprehensive 137-run victory. The final Test at the SCG ended in a draw and India, under Virat Kohli, recorded their maiden Test series win in Australia on their 12th tour Down Under. Pujara, with 521 runs from 7 innings, was the highest impact batter of the series while Bumrah, with 21 wickets, the highest impact bowler. India became the first team from the sub-continent to record a Test series win in Australia.
Jasprit Bumrah was the Player of the Match in India’s historic win at the MCG in 2018 (Pic: AFP)
One of the Greatest Comeback Wins in Test History (2020-21)
Down and out, bruised and battered, mocked, and ridiculed after the horror of ’36 all-out’ in Adelaide, India, led by Ajinkya Rahane, scripted a stunning comeback in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG to level the series. While Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin kept Australia to below 200, it was the stand-in-captain – Ajinkya Rahane – whose magical 112 gave India a big lead in the first innings. A combined bowling effort in the second innings, which included three wickets from debutant Mohammed Siraj helped India to bowl out Australia for 200. They then chased down the target of 70 with eight wickets in hand.
The series was tied at 1-1 and India had to breach Australia’s bastion at The Gabba to lay claim on the trophy. The home team had not lost a Test in Brisbane in 32 years. India had only chased 300 or more in the fourth innings twice in their history. They barely had an XI to field with most of their frontline pacers and players out due to injuries. Yet, against all odds, the team rose to the occasion and produced one of the greatest chases in Test history. Shubman Gill laid the platform with a sublime 91 while Pujara was at his dogged best in a splendid 114-run stand for the second wicket. However, the defining performance of the match came from Rishabh Pant who smashed an unbeaten 89 off just 138 deliveries as India gunned down the target in 97 overs and recorded a stunning win by three wickets, thereby winning their second successive series in Australia.
Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten 89 helped India pull off a stunning chase at The Gabba in 2021 (Pic: AFP)
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