On 22 September, 2016, Virat Kohli will walk down the lush grass of Green Park stadium in Kanpur, where he will lead the Indian Cricket team in its 500th test match. Carrying on his shoulders, the lustrous and milestone history, the skipper, with his carefully chosen players will look at it as just another test match against the Kiwis and would like to embark this journey of Indian team playing another 500.
To look back in the past, we have had series disappointments to white wash, innings loss to third day victories, building attractive stadiums at home to creating records overseas, Indian cricket team has had numerous ups and downs. India started their test journey at the Home of Cricket at Lord’s Cricket Stadium in 1932 against England, becoming the sixth nation to put their foot in the arena of test cricket. The first ever test match led by CK Naydu ended in a losing cause by 158 runs. Novice at the game back then, Indian Cricket was uplifted from its humble state to the Cricket superpower gradually over the period of 84 years. With only 10 wins in their first 100 matches and 40 losses, Indian Cricket was recovering from its colonial rule for the first half of the century of test matches.
India played hosts to their first test match in 1933 with Bombay Gymkhana serving as the venue. It was not until 1952 that India secured their first win in their 25th test match defeating England by an innings. Vinoo Mankad starred by taking 12 wickets for 108, the first Indian to take 10 or more wickets in a test match. Later on, he again shot to fame by contributing comprehensively in India’s first test series win against Pakistan. The away victory drought was finally over after struggling for 43 test matches when New Zealand was humbled at Dunedin in 1968, eventually winning the historic series 3-1.
Then came the era of the great Sunil Gavaskar, who fearlessly faced the tall, fast bowlers from West Indies without proper gear. It was the year 1976, when he scored a staggering 774 runs in the 1-0 series win against the Caribbean, the powerhouse of Cricket in the 70’s. It was not before March, 1987, Sunil Gavaskar reached the figure of 10,000 runs in his penultimate test match. While 80’s is considered for India’s World Cup and ODI triumphs, it is important to note their 2-0 win in England and a drawn series in Australia. Kapil Dev surpassed Richard Hadlee as he tookhis wicket number 432 in a series against Sri Lanka in 1994. A memorable record of 10 wickets in an innings for Indian spinner Anil Kumble in 1999 carved his name in the history books forever.
When talking about India’s test cricket journey, one cannot forget about the masterclass of Rahul Dravid, regarded as ‘The Wall’ and VVS Laxman. Their record breaking partnership ay Eden Gardens, Kolkata saved India from a brink of a defeat and took them to the memorable victory. Dravid, later, helped India win a test match after 23 years at Adelaide, Australia. Virender Sehwag helped India in its triumph in Pakistan after 49 years in April 2004.
The little master, Sachin Tendulkar reached his personal milestone of 15,921 runs, a record still unbroken. But it was not until December of 2009 that India reached #1 test ranking for the first time since the system was introduced in 2003.
It is now the era of promising youngsters, newcomers and evolved cricket. India has come a long way in its roller coaster journey of 500 tests. It will be interesting to see how we pave our path to playing constructively in the next 500.