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Saturday, April 2, 2011

“Practice as if you are the worst, perform as if you are the best.”


                                                            
The British brought cricket to India in the early 1700s, with the first cricket match played in 1721. In 1848, the Parsi community in Bombay formed the Oriental Cricket Club, the first cricket club to be established by Indians. After slow beginnings, the Europeans eventually invited the Parsis to play a match in 1877.By 1912, the Parsis,Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims of Bombay played a quadrangular tournament with the Europeans every year.In the early 1900s, some Indians went on to play for the English cricket team. Some of these, such as Ranjitsinhji and KS Duleepsinhji were greatly appreciated by the British and their names went on to be used for the Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy- two major first class tournaments in India. In 1911, an Indian team went on their first official tour of England, but only played English county teams and not the English cricket team. India was invited into The Imperial Cricket Council in 1926 and made its debut as a Test-cricket-playing-nation in 1932 led by CK Nayudu.The match was given Test status despite being only 3 days in length. The team was not strong in its batting at this point and went on to lose by 158 runs.The Indian team continued to improve throughout the 1930s and '40s but did not achieve an international victory during this period. The team's first series as an independent country was in 1948 against Sir Donald Bradman's Invincibles (a name given to the Australian cricket team of that time). Australia won the five-match series, 4-0.

India recorded their first Test victory against England at Madras (now Chennai) in 1952.Later in the same year, they won their first Test series, which was against Pakistan.They continued their improvement throughout the early 1950s with a series win against New Zealand in 1956. However, they did not win again in the remainder of the decade and lost badly to strong Australian and English sides. The next decade saw India's reputation develop as a team with a strong record at home. They won their first Test series against England at home in 1961–62, and also won a home series against New Zealand. They also managed to draw home series against Pakistan and Australia, and another series against England. In this same period, India also won its first series outside the subcontinent, against New Zealand in 1967–68.

The key to India's bowling in the 1970s were the Indian spin quartet - Bishen Bedi, E.A.S. Prasanna, BS Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. This period also saw the emergence of two of India's best ever batsmen, Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath. Indian pitches have had tendency to support spin and the spin quartet exploited this to create collapses in opposing batting lineups. These players were responsible for the back-to-back series wins in 1971 in the West Indies and in England, under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar. Gavaskar scored 774 runs in the West Indian series while Dilip Sardesai's 112 played a big part in their one Test win.
 
The advent of One-Day International cricket in 1971 created a new dimension in the cricket world. However, India was not considerably strong in ODIs at this point and batsmen such as the captain Gavaskar were known for their defence-based approaches to batting. India began as a weak team in ODIs and did not manage to qualify for the second round in the first two editions of the Cricket World Cup. Gavaskar infamously blocked his way to 36 not out off 174 balls against England in the first World Cup in 1975, India scored just 132 for 3 and lost by 202 runs.

In contrast, India fielded a strong team in Test matches and were particularly strong at home where their combination of stylish batsman and beguiling spinners were seen at their best. India set a then test record in the third Test against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 1976 when they chased 403 to win thanks to 112 from Vishwanath. This West Indian defeat is considered to be a watershed in the history of their cricket because it led to captain Clive Lloyd dispensing with spin altogether and relying entirely on a four man pace attack. In November 1976 the team established another record by scoring 524 for 9 declared against New Zealand at Kanpur without an individual scoring a century. There were six fifties, the highest being 70 by Mohinder Amarnath. The innings was the eighth instance in Test cricket where all eleven batsmen reached double figures.

During the 1980s, India developed a more attack minded batting line-up with stroke makers such as the wristy Mohammed Azharuddin, Dilip Vengsarkar and all-rounder Ravi Shastri prominent during this time. India won the Cricket World Cup in 1983, defeating the then favourites West Indies in the final, owing to a strong bowling performance. In spite of this the team performed poorly in the Test arena, including 28 consecutive Test matches without a victory. In 1984, India won the Asia Cup and in 1985, won the World Championship of Cricket in Australia. Apart from this, India remained a very weak team outside the Indian subcontinent. India's Test series victory in 1986 against England remained the last Test series win by India outside the subcontinent for the next 19 years. The 1987 Cricket World Cup was held in India. The 1980s saw Gavaskar and Kapil Dev (India's best all rounder to this date) at the pinnacle of their careers. Gavaskar made a Test record 34 centuries as he became the first man to reach the 10,000 run mark. Kapil Dev later became the highest wicket taker in Test cricket with 434 wickets. The period was also marked by an unstable leadership, with Gavaskar and Kapil exchanging the captaincy several times.
 
The addition of Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble to the national side in 1989 and 1990 further improved the team. The following year, Javagal Srinath, India's fastest bowler since Amar Singh made his debut. Despite this, during the 1990s, India did not win any of its 33 Tests outside the subcontinent while it won 17 out of its 30 Tests at home. After being eliminated by neighbours Sri Lanka on home soil at the 1996 Cricket World Cup, the team underwent a year of change as Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, later to become captains of the team, made their debut in the same Test at Lord's. Tendulkar replaced Azharuddin as captain in late 1996, but after a personal and team form slump, Tendulkar relinquished the captaincy and Azharuddin was reinstalled at the beginning of 1998. With the captaincy burden removed, Tendulkar was the world's leading run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs, as India enjoyed a home Test series win over Australia, the best ranked team in the world. After failing to reach the semifinals at the 1999 Cricket World Cup, Tendulkar was again made captain, and had another poor run, losing 3-0 on a tour of Australia and then 2-0 at home to South Africa. Tendulkar resigned, vowing never to captain the team again, with Sourav Ganguly appointed the new captain. The team was further damaged in 2000 when former captain Azharuddin and fellow batsman Ajay Jadeja were implicated in a match-fixing scandal and given life bans.

Since 2000, the Indian team underwent major improvements with the appointment of John Wright as India's first ever foreign coach. India maintained their unbeaten home record against Australia in Test series after defeating them in 2001. The series was famous for the Kolkata Test match, in which India became only the third team in the history of Test cricket to win a Test match after following on. Australian captain Steve Waugh labelled India as the "Final Frontier" as a result of his side's inability to win a Test series in India.Victory in 2001 against the Australians marked the beginning of a dream run for India under their captain Sourav Ganguly, winning Test matches in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies and England. The England series is also known for India's highest ODI run-chase of 325 runs at Lord's which came in the Natwest ODI Series final against England. In the same year, India were joint winners of the ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka, and then went to the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa where they reached the final only to be beaten by Australia. The 2003-2004 season also saw India play out a Test series in Australia where they drew 1-1 with world champions, and then win a Test and ODI series in Pakistan.
 
At the end of the 2004 season, India suffered from lack of form and fitness from its older players. A defeat in a following home Test series against Australia was followed by an ODI home series defeat against Pakistan followed by a Test series levelled 1-1. Greg Chappell took over from John Wright as the new coach of the Indian cricket team following the series, and his methods proved to be controversial during the beginning of his tenure. The tension resulted in a fallout between Chappell and Ganguly, resulting in Rahul Dravid being made captain. This triggered a revival in the team's fortunes, following the emergence of players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and the coming of age of players like Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh. A thumping home series victory over Sri Lanka in 2005 and a drawn series with South Africa put India at 2nd place in the ICC ODI rankings. This was followed by a convincing ODI series win in Pakistan in early 2006 following a loss in the Test series, which gave India the world record of 17 successive ODI victories while batting second.[22] Towards the middle of 2006 however, a 4-1 series loss in the West Indies gave rise to a slump in India's ODI form, while they achieved a 1-0 victory in the Test series that followed, giving them their first Test series victory in the Caribbean since 1971. India's ODI form, however, slumped further with a disappointing performance in the 2006 Champions Trophy and a drubbing in the ODI series in South Africa. This was followed yet again by an initial good performance in the Tests, giving India its first Test match win in South Africa, although they went on to lose the series 2-1. This Test series was marked by Ganguly's comeback to the Indian team.
The beginning of 2007 had seen a revival in the Indian team's ODI fortunes before the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Series victories against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, marked by the comeback of Ganguly, and strong form by Tendulkar, and the emergence of young attacking players like Robin Uthappa saw many pundits to tip India as a real chance to do well at the 2007 Cricket World Cup. However, defeats to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka saw India fail to reach the final eight. India's traditional strengths have always been its line-up of spin bowlers and batsmen.Recently, it has a very strong batting lineup with Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag all being selected to play for the ICC World XI in the 2005 "SuperTest" against Australia. In previous times, India was unique in that it was the only country to regularly field three spinners in one team, whereas one is the norm, and of the fifteen players to have taken more than 100 wickets, only four were pace bowlers from the last 20 years. However in recent years, Indian pace bowling has improved, with the emerging talents of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma many more playing in the national team.

In December 2006, it played and won its first ever Twenty20 international in South Africa, becoming the most recent Test team to play Twenty20 cricket. After winning the Test series against England in August 2007, Rahul Dravid stepped down as the captain of the team following which Mahendra Singh Dhoni was made the captain of the Twenty20 and ODI team. In September 2007, it won the first ever Twenty20 World Cup held in South Africa, beating Pakistan by 5 runs in a thrilling final. Then they toured Australia with a controversial series that they lost 2-1 in test but come back for a whitewash final against them.
After beating Sri Lanka 2-0 in December 2009, India become the No. 1 team in the world. then retained by drawing a series to South Africa and Sri Lanka confirmed their rankings. In October 2010 India won the test series 2-0 against Australia giving them back to back series win vs them. Then they got the first drawn series in South Africa.

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