Like every other country in the British Commonwealth, India learned the game of cricket from its colonial masters. Yet, the irony is that over the years the country has performed much better than its erstwhile tutors and is right now regarded as one of the strongest cricketing countries. Following are some of the most memorable moments in its cricketing history till date.
World Cup win in 1983
Without a shadow of a doubt, the World Cup win in 1983 remains the most iconic moment in India’s cricketing history. On that afternoon of 25 June India triumphed against all odds including the West Indies that had won the previous two world cups in 1975 and 1979 and were on course for winning this one as well. Kapil Dev stamped his authority on national imagination with some courageous performances when the team needed them and established himself as one of the greats of the game. The game also experienced a tremendous surge in popularity and inspired the likes of Sachin Tendulkar to emulate the heroes of 1983. Mention must also be made in this context of the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Series win in Australia. This win showed that India’s 1983 win was not a fluke.
2011 World Cup win at home
This was India’s second World Cup win and the first one at home. With this one India exorcised the ghosts of 1987 and 1996 when it was unable to win the World Cup at home in spite of being one of the favorites. Both the times the team was defeated in the semis. This World Cup also proved to be the crowning glory for perhaps the most celebrated Indian cricketer of recent times – Sachin Tendulkar – and established new heroes in MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. Best of all, India played like a true champ from the knockout stages after stuttering through the league phase somewhat. Just like the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Series win the 2013 Champions Trophy win also established firmly India’s place as a top limited overs side.
2007 World T20 win
This was the first ever edition of the World T20 and India won in spite of being a completely unheralded team. The team played well throughout the tournament led capably by MS Dhoni. Coming 24 years after India’s last World Cup win this sure felt special.
The twin test series win in 1971
In 1971 India embarked on twin test tours of West Indies and England. Once again, in spite of not being favorites the team managed to win both the test series. The series win against West Indies is perhaps more special because it had Sir Garfield Sobers, probably the best cricketer ever, in his prime. This series also unearthed Sunil Gavaskar, who was perhaps the best Indian batsman before Sachin Tendulkar came along. It showed two things – India could perform and win abroad, and that it could hang with the big boys of the day.
India’s first test wins at home and at abroad
It was during the 1968 tour of New Zealand that India finally got the monkey off its back and won its first ever test outside home soil. Erapalli Prasanna (6 wickets in the second innings) was the chief architect of this stupendous victory. However, the first test win came at home in Chennai during the fifth test of the 1952 series with the visitors being England. Vinoo Mankad, one of the greatest Indian cricketers of all time, left his mark on the test with 12 wickets including 8 in the first innings and was ably assisted by off spinner Ghulam Ahmed who claimed 4 wickets in the second innings. The Indian total was bolstered by centuries from Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar.