A member of the ICC that was given Test status in the 1930s, India have consistently been ranked as one of the best teams in the game, with a couple of World Cup titles under their belt, as well as some huge Test victories and some consistent performances in other tournaments.
The British were the ones to introduce the game of cricket to India, with the first game reported to have been played during the 18th century. India created their own team in the early 20th century and they were then given Test status in 1932, with their first recorded game being a loss to England. This was a rather heavy loss, but India improved quickly and before long, after more heavy defeats, they had gained a competitive edge. In the 1940s they were a completely different side, beating both Australia and the West Indies in this decade — an impressive feat considering the Australian squad featured the likes of Don Bradman and is often said to be one of the best teams in the game’s history.
On the biggest stage, India have had some very inconsistent form. For a country of its size, and one that has a huge passion for cricket, it is a surprise that they have not quite been able to rival the success of the likes of Australia. They have bettered the form of Pakistan though, their closest rivals, and for them that’s all that matters.
In 1983, they won their first World Cup, despite having not made it beyond the first round on their two previous attempts. After beating England in the final they were only just spared what would have been a very interesting final against Pakistan, when their neighbors were beaten by the West Indies. In the final India then did what Pakistan had failed to do, beating an unbelievably strong Windies team and claiming their first title in the process. This was a West Indies team that went most of the decade undefeated in Test matches and one that would go down in history as the greatest ever, so this was a big achievement, and one deserved of the glory it brought.
In 2003 India made it to another final, only to be beaten by Australia, and they repeated this in 2011, beating Pakistan in the semi-final and then triumphing over Sri Lanka in the final to claim their second World Cup title. In 2007, India also won a World Twenty20 title, an achievement they failed to even come close to during the next three tournaments, before they made it to the final again in 2014 and then lost.
In Test matches, a record that they are perhaps the most annoyed about is against Pakistan, who have beaten them 12 times as of late 2015, with India only returning the favor 9 times. Of the world’s best teams, India have only beaten a few of them more times than they have been beaten, and these include New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
India have fielded a number of greats over the years, many of which have plied their trade in the last few decades, with just a small number of the players often voted on their list of all-time greats playing prior to the 1970s.
One of the players who wasn’t really allowed to make the sort of mark that he could have made on the game was Vijay Hazare. He only played 30 Tests for India, with the outbreak of the Second World War stopping him from plastering his name all over the record books. He still broke a few records and his performance when India beat Australia will never be forgotten, but there is a feeling that he could have done so much more if he had been allowed the chance.
The same can definitely not be said about Sachin Tendulkar, who notched 200 tests and made the record books his own. Known by his nickname “The Little Master”, Tendulkar achieved legendary status during a career which saw him set records for the most runs, appearances and centuries. He is the player that all young batters aim to emulate, and his records are likely to remain for some time.
Sunil Gavaskar is another Indian batsman who has gone down in cricketing history. He played in 125 tests and was always there when it mattered, notching important runs, combating intense pressure and helping his team to overcome some of the best Test sides of recent decades.
Anil Kumble is also remembered very fondly in India. As well as being an incredibly gifted bowler who played in more than 130 Tests for his country, Kumble was known to have played through the pain barrier on a number occasions, staying on the field despite injury and helping his teammates across the finishing line.
Rahul Dravid, a batsman known as The Wall because he remained in bat no matter what the opposing side threw at him, is also often rated as one of their best ever players, as is Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly.