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75 Years of Indian Test Cricket
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jun 17, 2007
These are not good times for Indian cricket. The World Cup debacle, the witch-hunt that followed, a lukewarm display in Bangladesh and now the coach selection fiasco. But next week (June 25) also marks the 75th anniversary of India’s entry into the world of Test cricket. So what better time than now to look back at some of the high points of Indian cricket?

The very first day at Lord’s in 1932 was one of domination by the touring Indians. English cricket followers were stunned to see their star-studded team dismissed for a mere 259, India finishing on 30 for no loss by stumps.

Of course, the euphoria did not last for long. Two days later India lost the Test by 158 runs. But they left Lord’s with their heads held high. The journey had begun on a positive note.

Eighteen months later Lala Amarnath heralded the advent of the age of Indian batsmanship with the first Test century by an Indian, against England in Bombay.

It would take 20 years from its birth for the Indian team to record its first victory in Test cricket, at Madras against England. And later that same year came the first series win, against Pakistan.

But it was not till 1971 that it really came of age with victories abroad for the first time, first against the West Indies and then in England.

By a marvelous coincidence, it was 51 years to the day after that debut Test match that Indian cricket scaled the peak (even though in the one-day version) when they beat the mighty West Indies in the final of the third Prudential World Cup, once again at Lord’s.

That one match changed the equation of world cricket and took the World Cup outside of England for the first time and to the sub-continent.

By the time it returned in 1996, it was now clear that India was the financial powerhouse that ran world cricket with Jagmohan Dalmiya taking over as chief of the ICC the next year. From that first century by Amarnath to the present day of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, it has been the batsmen who have been the driving force behind Indian cricket.

Sunil Gavaskar held for many years the two jewels in the world batting crown—first to cross 10,000 and highest number of centuries. Making it a grand double, Kapil Dev was for a time the highest wicket taker of all time.

But it is spin bowling that has been another golden legacy, from the left-arm guiles of Vinoo Mankad and the mesmerizing leg breaks of Subhas Gupte to the famed quartet of the 70s and now the mantle being carried on by Anil Kumble.

Yes, I have only touched on the highlights here. After all, birthdays are for celebrating. And for a change, let us celebrate all that is memorable in Indian cricket.

 
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