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Cricket is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in India and the game is being played all over the country, since its inception. The exact day, month or year of Cricket`s inception in India is still ambiguous, due to lack of proper facts. However, according to some people, the Indians started playing the game for the first time in an organised way in the year 1848. The first Indian Cricket club, named the Parsee Oriental Cricket Club, was founded in that year and they played their first match in Bombay (Mumbai). From this point, the journey of Indian cricket began.
Other experts are of the opinion that the history of Indian Cricket started its journey in the place named Sylhet (currently in Bangladesh). Proper evidence has been found to prove this from the Sporting Intelligence magazine, on 3rd March, 1845. The report was published by the editor of the Englishman newspaper and the news item was titled as "Sepoy Cricketers". The reporter made proper observation of the match played between the European cricketers and the Sepoy cricketers. Apart from this news item, another report has been found to support the fact that Cricket was first played in Sylhet in India. This report was titled as "Sepoy Cricket at Sylhet" and in this report, the reporter mentioned about the match between two regimental sides, each of which contained at least eight native cricketers.
After its initiation, Cricket started to get popularity among the Indian people within a short period of time. The middle and last half of the nineteenth century was an important period in the history of Indian Cricket, as the game spread its reach in almost all the parts of India during that period. Many teams from England started touring India by the close of the nineteenth century. There is a report published in the newspaper, The Times of India, that supports this fact and the report was about the Presidency matches between the Parsees and the Lord Hawke`s Englishmen. The match was held in Bombay in 1892. The report described how the international Cricket matches that took place in Bombay at that time, increased interest among the local people. In the Metro cities of India like Calcutta (Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai) and Madras (Chennai), Cricket was played as a sport by the first half of the twentieth century. As the Hindus of India too started playing the game, the tournament of Bombay Presidency Matches became the Bombay Triangular in 1907-08. In 1912-13, the entry of the Muslims made it a quadrangular.
The First Test Match was played in 1932. Though India did not have a national cricket team during the early 1900s, a few Indian great cricketers of that era did represent the England cricket team. Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Duleep Singhji were the prominent ones among them. However, the first international exposure in the history of Indian Cricket came in the year 1926. In that year, a team from the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), led by A.E.R Gilligan toured India. Though it was an unofficial tour, the Indian people were quite interested and enthusiastic about the matches that MCC played during the tour. The legendary Indian cricket player, C. K. Nayudu played brilliantly during that tour and he also scored a century against the MCC side in Bombay. The tour was responsible to redefine the contours of Indian cricket. It ultimately spearheaded to the formation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the year 1928. India was accredited Test status by 1932, much before it got its Independence in 1947. India played against England in that year.
After Independence, a big push came in the history of Indian Cricket, when India got its first ever Test series win against the neighbouring Asian counterpart and archrivals Pakistan, in 1952. The series saw brilliant and extraordinary performances from some of the greatest Indian Cricket players like Polly Umrigar, Vijay Manjrekar and leg spinner SM Gupte. The Indian Cricket during 1960s saw the Indian team becoming a formidable side on native soil. It was also the decade, when the Indian team started playing well in overseas. India`s great performances on home soil were evident from the fact that India defeated New Zealand and held the teams like Pakistan, England and Australia to a draw, during that period. The 1960s also saw the rising of some of the greatly talented Indian Cricket players like Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Dilip Sardesai, Hanumant Singh, Chandu Borde and not least of all, off-spinner EAS Prasanna.
The era of India`s spin quartet comprising Bishen Singh Bedi (left-arm spinner), Erapalli Prasanna (off-spinner), BS Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan (off-spinner) during 1970s, is considered as the golden era in the history of Indian Cricket. Apart from the dominance of the spin quartet over all the batsmen of the world, 1970s also saw the rising of two of India`s greatest ever batsmen - Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath. All of these great Indian Cricket players made their presence felt in the international circuit and contributed immensely in the success of Indian team. India successfully won consecutive Test series in West Indies and England in 1971 and the team was led by Ajit Wadekar, in both the series.
During the 1980s, India developed a more attack minded batting line-up with stroke makers such as 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 addition of Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble to the national side in 1989 and 1990 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 native land at the 1996 Cricket World Cup, the team underwent a year of change as Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, later to be 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 semi-finals 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 Saurav 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 Saurav 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 was 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 seasons 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 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.
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.
Recently, India under the coaching of Gary Kristen won the Cricket World Cup in 2011, after a long time since 1983, under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh became the man of the tournament. The Indian team beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets, in the final match which was played in Mumbai. Apparently, India became the first country to win the tournament in native soil.