The India national cricket team is governed by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and is a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), with a Test, One Day International (ODI) and T20 international (T20I) playing status. Cricket was introduced in India by European merchant sailors in the 18th century, but India played their first Test match only in 1932 at Lord’s cricket ground in London under the captaincy of C K Nayudu and became the sixth nation to get a Test cricket status. Currently led by Virat Kohli in all formats of the game, India have former cricketer Ravi Shastri as their head coach.
The Indian cricket team had to wait for 20 years before their first Test victory in 1952, when they beat England in Madras and Pakistan later to win their first Test series. In its first fifty years of international cricket, India were considered one of the weaker teams in world cricket, having won only 35 of the first 196 Test matches. The team, however, gained strength in the 1970s with the emergence of players like Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath, all-rounders Kapil Dev and the Indian spin quartet of Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Bishan Singh Bedi. Even so, India were still considered only a strong team at home, weak abroad. They improved their overseas form, especially in limited-overs cricket, since the start of the 21st century, winning Test matches in Australia, England and South Africa.
India’s record at ICC World Cups
India had a dismal record in first two World Cups (1975, 1979) but they shed their underdog tag in the 1983 edition when they halted the juggernaut of the West Indies, the champions of the first two world cup wins. In the final match pof the 1983 World Cup, India beat the West Indies by 49 runs under the leadership of Kapil Dev. In the 1987 World Cup, India made it to the semifinals but failed to make it to the finals after being defeated by England. The next 3 world cups (1992, 1996 and 1999) were quite disappointing for India, as they failed to reach the finals despite having some brilliant batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin.
However, there was a turnaround after the match-fixing scandal of 2000. The scandal had seen the Indian team losing Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nikhil Chopra. Sourav Ganguly was appointed the captain of the Indian cricket team. Under Ganguly’s leadership, India played the 2003 world cup and reached the finals, where they faced a 120-run defeat against Australia. Despite the loss, Team India’s performance was highly appreciated, especially the efforts of youngsters Virendra Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
The next world cup (2007) was the most forgettable for India, as they were eliminated in the very first round. Many accused coach Greg Chappell for India’s dismal show at the 2007 World Cup. His decision to move Sachin Tendulkar down order to number 4, despite his brilliant record as an opener, was viewed as a major disturbance in the team’s balance.
India sprang back in the next world cup (2011) under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and went on to become the champions. They became the first team to win the coveted trophy on home soil. Their successful run in the tournament was ensured by a great mix of young and experienced players in the side – besides a charismatic skipper in MS Dhoni, known for his street-smart skills, the team benefited from the experience of Sachin Tendulkar and Virendra Sehwag at the top, Gautam Gambhir and a young Virat Kohli in the middle. Yuvraj Singh also played a crucial role with the bat at number 4, performing exceptionally. He also had a very good tournament as a bowler and fielder. Dhoni, who had had a string of low totals until the semis, unleashed his batting prowess when it was mattered the most, scoring an unbeaten 92 in the final match against Sri Lanka at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium. He went on to make take the team past the target with a SIX over long-on off pacer Nuwan Kulasekara.
Defending the world title in ICC cricket World Cup 2015, India were the favourites. They did not lose even a single match until the quarterfinals. In semis, however, they were beaten by Australia, which went on to win the world cup for a record 5th time.
In ICC cricket world Cup 2019, India are playing under the leadership of an aggressive Virat Kohli and are being seen as one of the favorites to win the tournament.