India played its first ever series against New Zealand in the year 1956, and ended up winning the series with a 2-0 margin. MH Mankad was fantastic with his batting display and averaged 105.2 in the series with a score of 526 runs. Once again the responsibility of the bowling department was held by SM Gupte, and he took 34 crucial wickets. The later part of 1950s did not yield good result as the initial part did: India lost a 3-Test series to Australia (2-0), lost a 5-Test series against the West Indies (3-0), took a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of England, and lost a second series against a strong Australian side (2-1).
During the 1980s, other players like Mohammed Azharuddin, Ravi Shastri, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Sanjay Manjrekar, Krish Srikkanth and Maninder Singh emerged. India won the Cricket World Cup in 1983, defeating West Indies in an exciting final match at Lord's.
India won the World Championship of Cricket in Australia in the year 1985. And the following year India won a test series in England, which remained, for nearly 19 years, the last Test series win outside subcontinent (until team led by Dravid won a series in 2007).
Later of course Mohinder Amarnathand "Mr. Dependable" Dilip Vengsarkaremerged into the scene; the latter was the undisputed No. 1 batsman in 1986-87. Sunil Gavaskar became the first ever batsman to accumulate 10,000 runs in Test cricket, and went on to register a record 34 centuries, surpassed by Sachin Tendulkar in the recent times. Kapil Dev, an authentic all-rounder, became the highest wicket taker in Test cricket, surpassing Richard Hadlee to take a total of 434 wickets, a record which has since been broken by Courtney Walsh, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan and has also been surpassed by fellow Indian Anil Kumble.
The surfacing of Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble in 1989 and 1990 respectively was an indication towards beginning of an era in Indian cricket that was predominantly overshadowed by individual stardom and charisma. Arguably, Sachin Tendulkar became the best batsman in the world, along with Brian Lara of the West Indies. In 1998 Sir Donald Bradman himself remarked that batting style of Sachin Tendulkar was similar to his. Mohammed Azharuddin, who captained India for most of the 90s, proved a captain whose main strength, if not his motivational skills, was an ability to stay cool under pressure. The career of wrist-player from Hyderabad ended after 99 Tests when he was banned for life after being implicated in the match-fixing scandal. Under his captaincy, the Indian team became virtually unbeatable at home, with big wins coming against teams like England, New Zealand and Australia, but their performances abroad left a lot to be desired.
Towards the end of 1999, the Indian team was in transitional phase. The winter's of 1999 was marked by a disastrous Aussie tour which exposed the Indian team's weaknesses when playing abroad, marked with a loss of form of most of the batsmen, except Tendulkar and the newly-emerged VVS Laxman. After Sachin Tendulkar quit captaincy and Azharuddin was banned for match-fixing, Saurav Ganguly took over as captain, and the New Zealander John Wright became coach.
Ganguly's captaincy started a new beginning for Indian cricket. It all began with famous series win against Australia in 2001. Steve Waugh's aggressive Aussie team was defeated 2-1 in the series after they took the lead 1-0 in the series at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The remarkable turnaround came with the Kolkata test match at Eden Gardens, when VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh's performance took India to victory after they had followed on. This series marked a turning point in the Indian team's destiny, and provided the team with the boost up they dearly needed. Henceforth, the team performed immensely both at home and aboard, with Test victories coming in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, England, Australia, and a famous series victory against arch-rivals Pakistan in 2004, Indian team was soaring high.
Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag were picked to participate in "Super Test" against Australia. They were selected in the ICC World XI side in the year 2005. The later part of 2005 saw Indian cricket shrouded with controversies. The Saurav Ganguly and Greg Chappel (who succeeded as Indian coach after John Wright) spat came to the fore and it was a nasty phase in Indian cricket. Eventually, Ganguly lost his captaincy and place in the side, and Rahul Dravid took over as the captain of the team. Dravid captained the side for two years. There are some high points and low points during his tenure as captain, with the latter dominating over the former. The win over West Indies to mark a series win in the Caribbean after 35 years, the 2007 test series win in England after 26 years, were some of the record Indian team achieved under Rahul's leadership.
While Tendulkar, Ganguly, Sehwag and Dravid formed the mainstay of the Indian batting during late 1990 and early 2000, the coming of age of players like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, and also the emergence of stars like Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni had boosted the Indian team by a huge margin.
In the bowling department, likes of Irfan Pathan, Santhakumaran Sreesanth, R.P. Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patelcame into the fray.
(Last Updated on : 13-08-2013)
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