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Indian cricket has evolved over the last century as several superstar batters have graced the legendary pitches of iconic stadiums all around the country as the following of the Men in Blue keeps increasing in the age of social media, the internet, and several OTT apps showcasing live cricket all around the year.
From the years of Vijay Hazare to Kapil Dev to MS Dhoni, Indian cricket has seen several heroes etching their names in the history books courtesy of certain milestones that should be discussed in detail by every youngster across the country.
Under the stewardship of Rahul Dravid, the Indian cricket team wrapped up the league stage of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup with nine wins in nine matches before sweeping New Zealand away signifying the new-found dominance in the sport after decades of struggle on English and Australian pitches under several different captains.
The Sacred Grounds
In 1933-34, the historic Eden Gardens was one of the two host venues for India’s first home test series against England as Bombay Gymkhana Ground was the other venue with the hosts losing the series 0-2. After several years of battle for independence, independent India finally defeated England in a test match at home in the 1951-52 England tour of India.
The venue for India’s first Test victory was the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk, Chennai, known as Madras in 1952 when England visited India for a 5-test match series.
The series ended as a 1-1 draw as the English side won the fourth test after three draws and were pegged back in the fifth match courtesy of a splendid performance from Vinoo Mankad, who took 12 wickets while Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar scored centuries in India’s only innings of the match.
The 1987 Cricket World Cup final was also played at the Eden Gardens with the Wankhade Stadium hosting the semi-final of the first World Cup to be held in the Indian subcontinent. The Calcutta venue once again earned the semi-final rights of the 1996 World Cup while the other semi-final of the tournament won by Sri Lanka was played at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.
The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup final was staged at the Wankhade Stadium as India brought the trophy back home after a wait of 28 years, allowing Sachin Tendulkar to retire with the trophy in his cabinet after numerous acclaims in the game for the Master Blaster.
The final of the 2023 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup will take place at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and it will be a spectacle as the stadium boasts a capacity of more than 1,30,000 which will certainly break the records of the most-attended match in the history of cricket.
Legends and their Legacies
Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji were one of the first few Indian players to represent the England cricket team in the early 20th century. After the Indian cricket team was invited to join the International Cricket Council in 1926, several players led the nation in multiple tours before World War II impacted the sporting proceedings in those days.
The folklore of batters like Nawab Ali Khan Pataudi, Lala Amarnath, C.K. Nayudu, and Vijay Hazare will always be alive in Indian cricket as the quartet also led India from the front taking on the captaincy responsibilities for multiple tours.
The emergence of Bishan Singh Bedi, Gundappa Viswanath, Sunil Gavaskar, and Mohinder Amarnath made India an all-rounded side well-equipped in multiple departments which was further enhanced after the rise of Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri.
The golden years for Indian batters were yet to come with Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, and Virender Sehwag dominating international cricket for many years in the late 1990s.
Tendulkar made many records against his name as he was the first batter to score 100 international centuries with 51 recorded in Tests while 49 were scored in ODI cricket. Tendulkar also became the first batter to score a double hundred in ODI cricket.
Tendulkar had all kinds of records to his name before Virat Kohli came along and broke them one by one as he is now the batter with the most ODI centuries after bringing about his 50th 100+ score in ODIs in the 2023 CWC semi-final against New Zealand.
Kohli now also holds the record for most runs in a single edition of the World Cup and would definitely add to it in the final against Australia at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are two more names in modern cricket who will be remembered for a long time as the former Indian skipper won the 2007 T20 World Cup, the 2011 Cricket World Cup, and the 2013 Champions Trophy as the captain of the Indian team.
On the other hand, Rohit has moulded the new-look ODI team of India in an attacking fashion and might become the third Indian skipper to lift the World Cup trophy over his head in a few days.
In the 1983 ICC World Cup semi-final, India was in a good position to make it to the semi-final as they had to win against Zimbabwe to be in a good position before their last group match against Australia.
India lost its first three wickets for a total of six runs while 5/17 could be seen on the scoreboard soon after. After a brief partnership between captain Kapil Dev and Roger Binny, the latter was dismissed by off-spinner John Traicos.
What followed was unheard of as Kapil started farming the strike after India went seven wickets down and produced a splendid unbeaten innings of 175 runs off 138 balls to record the highest number of runs by a batter in a limited-overs match at that time. Zimbabwe folded 31 runs short as the skipper took the last wicket on his fairytale evening.
Kohli achieved his peak form in 2016 and appeared as a maestro in run-chases but a slight dip in form in 2020 allowed the critics to hurl criticism towards the former Indian skipper but the Delhi-born batter bounced back with aplomb during the 2022 T20 World Cup.
In the match against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Men in Blue required 28 runs off 8 balls and Kohli produced another masterclass in run-chases as he smacked a Haris Rauf short-ball over long-on followed by a flick that sailed over the fence.
With 16 runs required off six balls, Kohli took the attack to Mohammad Nawaz and ended up taking India over the line in the epic fixture.
Next in the Batting Lineup
In a country of a billion people, it is tough to identify and nurture the talent as there are five backups available for every player in local teams with thousands of professional cricketers knocking on the doors of their respective state teams.
Shubman Gill is currently one of the brightest young talents in the country based on his strokeplay and mental demeanour on the pitch. The Chandigarh-born batter looks unfazed even while batting with the likes of Rohit and Kohli in front of more than a lakh supporters of Indian cricket.
Jasprit Bumrah can become the leader of the Indian bowling attack for years to come if he can keep his fitness issues aside, while the likes of Mohsin Khan, Arshdeep Singh, and Avesh Khan are ready to come into the Indian team if any of the first-choice trio of Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Mohammed Shami is unavailable due to any reason..