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INDIA ARRIVES ON CRICKET HORIZON

Cricket in India was brought by the Englishmen in the early 1700s, with the first cricket match supposedly played in 1721. The Parsi community established the first Indian cricket club ‘the Oriental Cricket Club’ in Bombay in 1848 and it sent a team on unofficial tour to play 28 matches in England in 1886. The team could win only one match and it may be regarded as the first win on English soil. Two more unofficial tours were undertaken in 1888 and 1911, financed and captained by the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupendra Singh. In the early 1900s, some Indians viz. Ranjitsinhji, ruler of Nawanagar and his nephew K S Duleepsinhji went on to play for the England cricket team and were greatly appreciated by the British. The Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy in India are named after them. Ranjitsinhji is regarded as one of the finest batsmen of all times. He brought a new style to batting and revolutionized the game. The ‘Leg Glance’ is considered to be invented by him. India participated in Imperial Cricket Council meeting in England in1926 and back home the ‘Board of Control for Cricket in India’ was established in 1928. The Test playing status to India was finally awarded in 1932. The first official 18-member Indian cricket team sailed to England in 1932 to play a one-off Test match on English soil. C K Nayudu, described as the “The Hindu Bradman” by English newspapers led the Indian team for its first ever Test match. The star studded English team was led by Douglas Jardine. It was a 3 day match and was played at Lord’s “the Mecca of Cricket” from June 25 to June 28 with June 26 being the rest day. England won the toss and elected to bat first. Sutcliffe and Homes who had made a record-smashing 555 runs partnership just nine days ago opened the innings but Indian fast bowlers Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh reduced the English team to 19 runs for the loss of 3 wickets in just 20 minutes. It was captain Jardine and Wally Hammond stabilized England innings and made 259 runs. Mohammad Nissar for India took 5 wickets for 93 runs in 26 overs at an economy of 3.58. India scored 189 runs with Nayudu scoring maximum 40 runs. The English team declared the second innings at 275 for 8 wickets giving India a target of 346 runs. India could score 187 runs and lost the match by 158 runs. Amar Singh scored first ever fifty (51) for India in second innings. India lost the match but the impact of the performance could be evaluated from the description of the play by The Birmingham Post which described “The All India cricket team has administered a few shocks to the dignity and confidence of England. If there were some among the 24000 spectators at Lord’s, who imagined that the granting of a Test match by the MCC to the tourists from the Indian empire was merely an amiable concession, then they had a very rude awakening before the close of play”. India appeared on the Test horizon to begin its journey and register a glistening and glorious future ahead.

Interesting facts: The Maharaja of Patiala was first named Captain of the Indian cricket team with Prince Ganshyamsinhji of Limbdi as Vice-captain and the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram (Vizzy) as the Deputy Vice-captain. Two weeks before the team was to leave, the Maharaja of Patiala stepped down on health grounds while Vizzy withdrew from the team citing his lack of form and fitness. The choice of captain fell upon the Maharaja of Porbandar (who was supposedly the worst player in the team) while Jahangir Khan was drafted into the team as a replacement for Vizzy. Since Maharaja of Porbandar knew his potential and Vice-captain Limbdi was out due to back strain, he himself decided to opt out and handed over the captaincy to C K Nayudu.
England captain Douglas Jardine later became infamous for his “Bodyline bowling” devised to check Australian batsmen in 1932-33 Ashes series in Australia and to bring back ‘Ashes’ lost to Australia in 1930

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