Indian Cricket has never failed to enthral the cricket fanatic nation, where the game of is in itself a religion. Indian cricket made its debut in 1932, during the colonial rule against England at the ‘Mecca of Cricket’ The Lord’s. Since then, Indian cricket has been on the rise and has come to dominate the game, slowly and steadily the game captivated millions of Indians. From India’s memorable first Test victory against England at Chepauk under the leadership of Vijay Hazare to Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s centuries of century, Indian cricket fans have endured the best and the worst of times, and still supporting the team through thick and thin. Indian cricket team along with its crazy fans has been through the emotional highs and lows.
Here is a list of Top 10 defining moments in Indian cricket that have left the fans in sheer elation, tears of joy and eclectic mood:
India’s first Test Victory
In February 1952, the newly independent country of India registered its first ever Test victory in the relatively young cricketing history. Captain Vijay Hazare created history by leading Indian cricket team to a comprehensive victory by an innings and 8 runs against the English side at Chepauk, Chennai. For a relatively new nation on the cricketing stage, this was a giant leap. It was India’s story of defiance and the heartbreak that the team suffered two years ago when the team fell short of 6 runs even with 2 wickets in hand due the end of the days play. India’s victory came after nine and a half years of sorrow and bitterness of the defeat.
First Series Win on Foreign Soil in 1971
The year 1971, was a standout year for Indian Cricket team as the team announced themselves big time on the international stage. India registered its first Test series victory on the foreign soil by defeating England 1-0 in a three-match Test series. The team followed up the success on foreign shore by registering another 1-0 series win against the West Indies in a 5-match Test series. Ajit Wadekar led Indian team during both the successes as India won its first of Test series on foreign soil since winning their first Test match way back in 1952.
Triumph of 1983 World Cup
Kapil Dev running down the boundary to grab the all-important catch of Sir Vivian Richards during the 1983 Cricket World Cup (CWC) Finals at the iconic Lord’s ground. That was the moment that changed the fate of cricket in India. India went onto win the World Cup under the captaincy of Kapil Dev who led from the front and ensured that the ‘Holy Grail’ was heading to India. The tournament was a roller-coaster ride for the Indian cricket team. Odds were against the Indian team in the finals, as they were up against the mighty West Indian side that had the most decorated players in every department. The two-time world champions were favourites to complete the hat-trick of World Cup victory, especially after restricting the Indian batting line-up to a meagre total of 183 runs. But, as the saying goes “it’s not about the dog in the fight, it’s about how much fight is there in the dog”, India fought fearlessly with grit and determination and triumphed over the West Indies team.
Match Fixing Scandal and the change of guard
Sachin Tendulkar, the lone warrior in the falling pack, this sums up the plight of Indian cricket in the 1990s. The waning of old guards such as Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar left a void. However, the “Little master” Sachin Tendulkar was coming of the age, the man blasted onto the world cricket and almost always ended up being India’s saviour. With his scintillating batting displays and occasional bowling masterclass Sachin would end up salvaging the country’s pride. Late 1990s saw the Indian cricket team blotted with the match-fixing scandal including captain Muhammad Azharuddin. The ardent of fans were losing all hope in the team. Sachin Tendulkar was handed over the reins of the Indian cricket team but an unsuccessful stint as a captain and burden of captaincy was becoming too much for him to handle. Sachin stepped down and the baton of captaincy was handed over to the “Bengal Tiger” Sourav Ganguly. The man with a courageous heart and an unflinching determination brought in the will to fight and play with pride for the country, slowly and steadily he was creating a fearless team with boiling young blood. Sourav Ganguly-led India took the team to great heights registered victories across the globe and made the Indian fans believe in the team once again.
Iconic India vs Australia Test 2001, Eden Gardens
At that time, the Australia’s invincible reign was akin to the West Indian side of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Australian team had some of the greatest gems of the game, as they mercilessly put the rest of the cricketing world through their dagger effortlessly. The Aussies had gone about registering 16 consecutive victories in Tests relentlessly combined with resilience and swagger. It needed some special efforts to stop the Australian juggernaut. The team from Down Under already notched up a comprehensive victory over the hosts in the first Test in Mumbai. Indian team delivered an unforgettable performance, delivering a huge knock-out blow to the Australian team in Kolkata. The match will be forever etched in the memory of cricket fanatics for a very special knock by VVS Laxman with his unbeaten 281 runs combined with the Turbinator- Harbhajan Singh’s spinning wizardry outclassing the Aussies. That memorable victory at the iconic Eden Gardens humbled the mighty Aussies, while helping the Indian team to restore parity in the series. The team regained the trust of the Indian cricket fans and instilled respect among the other cricket playing nations in the growing cricketing super-power that India was on the verge of becoming.
The Triumphant march in 2003 CWC faltered in the Finals
After a disappointing series in New Zealand, where the team was unable to cope up with the seemingly swinging conditions. Indian team headed to South Africa. An air of uncertainty surrounded the Indian team, not much was expected from the team during the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. The start of tournament just added fuel to the fire, with Indian team performing miserably in the first two matches, crowd back home was growing restless and agitated. The timely intervention by the senior members of the team including Sachin Tendulkar, as they came out and addressed the media and fans back home, while promising to make their fellow countrymen proud. A call that inspired one of the greatest comebacks in the CWC, gave hope to the fans and propelled the team that returned with renewed vigor and determination like a pack of wolves. The team went on a marauding run by notching up victories game after game to setup a summit clash with the Aussies. The final turned out to be a tame affair as it proved to a one-sided affair. Although, the defeat at the hands of the best team in the world at that time came as mild setback, but the Indian team completely won the heart of not only Indian fans but gained respect from all across the cricketing fraternity. It was the dawn of a new era in Indian cricket.
Series Down Under 2003-04
Indian team had an aura of invincibility back home but it was their form away from home that bothered the fans and the team. The Indian cricket team was often branded as “Lions at home and Lambs abroad”, a tag that this revitalized team was willing to shed at any cost. Indian cricket team had a poor run of form in Tests away from the comfort of home, with the team registering just 18 victories out of 176 Tests. India’s tour down under proved to be a defining moment in the team’s effort to silence the critics. India registered a convincing win over a dominant Aussie side in their peak by winning the second Test match at Adelaide Oval, notching up their fist Test victory in Australia since 1981. Australia came back to draw level by winning the Boxing-Day Test match held at Melbourne, the series ended 1-1, as India once again proved to be a handy team for the team from Down Under.
Debacle of 2007 CWC and the triumph of inaugural T-20 World Cup
When Team India travelled to the Caribbean Island for the 2007 50-overs World Cup, the whole nation of 1.1 billion were hoping for the team to bring home the World Cup after 24 years. However, the star-studded Indian line-up under the leadership of Rahul David failed miserably. The team could notch-up a single victory that too against minnows Bermuda and were heading home to following a shambolic group stage exit. The same year witnessed the inaugural edition of T-20 World Cup. Majority of the senior members opted out and decided to give chance to the younger generation, with M S Dhoni leading the team. The young and rejuvenated Indian team delivered mesmerising performances in the lead up to the final, where arch-rivals Pakistan were awaiting. India triumphed over Pakistan team and brought home the T-20 World Cup. The victory in South Africa marked the beginning of a new era, as the old guards were waning, while the sun was setting down on their careers.
Glory of 2011 CWC at home
When the Indian sub-continent was awarded the right to host 2011 Cricket World Cup, the tournament was touted as the last chance for the Master Blaster to get his hands around the ‘Holy Grail’. With favourable sub-continent conditions, Indian team walked into the tournament as the favourites, with Sachin Tendulkar gracing the tournament for one last time. Indian team got off to a great start, with ‘The God of Cricket’ making important contribution throughout the tournament. Man-of-the-Tournament Yuvraj Singh supported the team on several occasions and pulling the team up with his valuable knocks and scintillating bowling displays. India reached the Finals, where the other sub-continent giant Sri Lanka were waiting to end their 15-years drought. In an intense final, where India lost Virendra Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early on in the innings while chasing down a target of 275 runs, the unsung hero Gautam Gambhir and ‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni put up a great fightback. After Gambhir’s departure, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni guided India home with MSD hitting a six over the stands inside the full-packed Wankhede Stadium to bring the World Cup back home. The victory was dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar, the man who carried the Indian team on his shoulder for almost 2 decades and in befitting manner the team carried him on his shoulder for a lap of honour.
The God of Cricket in country where the game is a religion
When a certain 16-year old boy walked out against India’s arch-nemesis Pakistan during India’s tour of Pakistan in 1989, the world was watching a valiant young boy from the suburbs of Mumbai. He walked out to bat against one of the most fiery Pakistani bowling line-up. With the Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram and a young debutant Waqar Younis giving body blows to the 16-year old Indian batsman with their weltering fast swinging deliveries. But, the resilience and grit shown by the young boy made the world stand and take notice, even though he got out for mere 15 runs but he had won the heart over of millions of cricket fans. It was the beginning of the journey for one of the greatest batsman to have graced the game of cricket. Records kept on tumbling, as the boy was fast becoming a man, a man not only carrying the burden of the Indian cricket but was carrying the weight of expectations of the whole country. From scoring more than 34000 runs to centuries of century, records were being broken and history was being created in a career that spanned well over two decades. If someone starts writing about the journey of this 16-year-old boy who could have quit the game after being dealt heavy blows in his first Test match to becoming the ‘God of Cricket’, it will take forever. From being the hope of a nation with a population of over billion to winning the respect among the contemporaries, this certain man is none other than, the legend, the greatest ever, the one and only Sachin Tendulkar. From watching the nation in despair to providing them memories to cherish for lifetime, Sachin Tendulkar’s career is certainly a defining moment of Indian cricket. To sum up, ‘The God of Cricket’- is the best there was, the best there is and the best there ever will be.