India was gripped by a religion called cricket in 1983, when Kapil Dev and his men won the maiden ODI World Cup. However, even before the coveted silverware was ours, India had achieved many other august feats, one among which was registering their first Test win in 1952 over England, five years after India’s independence. As the country turns 70 today, let us recall five of those matches that swelled our hearts with pride.
Indian team for the England series in 1952
This win was special for two reasons. First, we won our maiden Test match twenty years after making the Test debut in 1932. Second, we won it over our former colonists. Led by Vijay Hazare, the hosts were put in to bowl first after losing the toss. Vinoo Mankad’s eight wickets, and centuries by Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar, helped India draw the series 1-1 by winning the second Test at Madras by an innings and eight runs. England were bowled out for 266 in the first innings, and 183 in the second.
Only a few months after India’s first Test win, they achieved another feat, this time by registering their first series win over arch-rivals Pakistan. Vijay Hazare and company beat the Abdul Kardar-led Pakistan team 2-1 at home in 1952. India won the first Test by an innings and 70 runs, but the visitors roared back to dominance in the second Test, which they won by an innings and 43 runs. The third Test was won by India by 10 wickets, while the last two were a draw. Polly Umrigar was the highest run-scorer in the series with 258 runs, while Vinoo Mankad was the highest wicket-taker with 25 wickets.
The win from 1983 remains the most historic cricket game of all time. Prior to the World Cup, fans had only passing interest in cricket, because the Indian team had done little in the previous World Cup editions to inspire support from fans. The then minnows, India upstaged competitive teams like Australia and West Indies to bring about a new revolution in Indian cricket. In the finals, the Kapil Dev-led team beat West Indies at Lord’s by 43 runs.
With this win, MS Dhoni became one of India’s most favourite captains, even before adding the Champions Trophy and ODI World Cup trophy to his kitty. The senior players of Indian Cricket Team backed out from playing the inaugural T20 World Cup, which led to the formation of a young side under Dhoni. From among the 12 teams that participated in the tournament, India and Pakistan made it to the finals, in which the former beat the latter in a down to the wire thriller.
‘Dhoni finishes off in style, and India lift the World Cup after 28 years.’ The Wankhede, India and the Indian diaspora across the world were all shrouded in euphoria. On April 2, 2011, India’s painful wait of winning the World Cup for the second time ended after 28 years. Under MS Dhoni, India had beaten Sri Lanka in the finals at Mumbai. Dhoni’s World Cup winning six made such a huge impact on fans and the cricket fraternity that former captain Sunil Gavaskar expressed his wish to see that six as the last thing before his death.
Among other fond victories registered by the blue brigade are their two Champions Trophy titles, and their first major overseas whitewash in 2017, where they outplayed Sri Lanka 3-0.