Ganguly became the regular captain of the team in both Tests and ODIs in 2000. He remained captain until 2005–06 and became the then most successful Indian captain, winning 21 of his 49 Test matches in charge and 76 of his 146 ODIs. Under his captaincy, India became the joint-winners of the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka, and the runners-up of the 2003 Cricket World Cup. India lost only three Tests at home under Ganguly and managed to draw Test series in England and Australia. Rahul Dravid took over as Test captain in 2005. In 2006, he led India to its first Test series victory in the West Indies in more than 30 years.
Cricket is the most popular sport in India by far, and is played almost everywhere. The Indian national cricket team won the 1983 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, and shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka. The 2023 Cricket World Cup will be hosted by India.
A skilled batsman can use a wide array of "shots" or "strokes" in both defensive and attacking mode. The idea is to hit the ball to the best effect with the flat surface of the bat's blade. If the ball touches the side of the bat it is called an "edge". The batsman does not have to play a shot and can allow the ball to go through to the wicketkeeper. Equally, he does not have to attempt a run when he hits the ball with his bat. Batsmen do not always seek to hit the ball as hard as possible, and a good player can score runs just by making a deft stroke with a turn of the wrists or by simply "blocking" the ball but directing it away from fielders so that he has time to take a run. A wide variety of shots are played, the batsman's repertoire including strokes named according to the style of swing and the direction aimed: e.g., "cut", "drive", "hook", "pull".
The batsman on strike (i.e. the "striker") must prevent the ball hitting the wicket, and try to score runs by hitting the ball with his bat so that he and his partner have time to run from one end of the pitch to the other before the fielding side can return the ball. To register a run, both runners must touch the ground behind the popping crease with either their bats or their bodies (the batsmen carry their bats as they run). Each completed run increments the score of both the team and the striker.
Off the field in televised matches, there is usually a third umpire who can make decisions on certain incidents with the aid of video evidence. The third umpire is mandatory under the playing conditions for Test and Limited Overs International matches played between two ICC full member countries. These matches also have a match referee whose job is to ensure that play is within the Laws and the spirit of the game.
Since colours have made their way into international cricket, the Indian cricket team has chosen blue as their primary colour. The blue colour of the uniform has earned them the nickname of 'Men in Blue' for the Indian cricket team. The secondary colour has changed over the years while yellow and orange have been dominant. With the inception of the World Series Cup in 1979, each team had to don a primary and secondary colour on their uniforms and the Indian team elected to wear light blue as their primary colour and yellow as their secondary colour. The team has worn different shades of blue since then. For the 1992 World Cup (Benson & Hedges World Cup), the team's colours were changed to navy-blue by ISC, the common kit manufacturer for the tournament. A light shade of blue with yellow as secondary colour and a strip with 10 different colours (representing different nations) was adapted on the uniform for the 1996 World Cup (Wills World Cup) while an even lighter shade of blue and a dominant yellow was used by ASICS, the common kit manufacturer for the 1999 World Cup. The ICC no longer appoints a common kit manufacturer for its tournaments.
In 1611, the year Cotgrave's dictionary was published, ecclesiastical court records at Sidlesham in Sussex state that two parishioners, Bartholomew Wyatt and Richard Latter, failed to attend church on Easter Sunday because they were playing cricket. They were fined 12d each and ordered to do penance. This is the earliest mention of adult participation in cricket and it was around the same time that the earliest known organised inter-parish or village match was played – at Chevening, Kent. In 1624, a player called Jasper Vinall died after he was accidentally struck on the head during a match between two parish teams in Sussex.
Before a match begins, the team captains (who are also players) toss a coin to decide which team will bat first and so take the first innings. Innings is the term used for each phase of play in the match. In each innings, one team bats, attempting to score runs, while the other team bowls and fields the ball, attempting to restrict the scoring and dismiss the batsmen. When the first innings ends, the teams change roles; there can be two to four innings depending upon the type of match. A match with four scheduled innings is played over three to five days; a match with two scheduled innings is usually completed in a single day. During an innings, all eleven members of the fielding team take the field, but usually only two members of the batting team are on the field at any given time. The exception to this is if a batsman has any type of illness or injury restricting his or her ability to run, in this case the batsman is allowed "A Runner" who can run between the wickets when the batsman hits a scoring run or runs. The order of batsmen is usually announced just before the match, but it can be varied.
The Nawab of Pataudi, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, was the team's captain for 36 Test matches from 1961–62 to 1969–70, returning for another four matches against West Indies in 1974–75. In the early years of his captaincy tenure, the team was whitewashed in the West Indies, England and Australia. However, in 1967–68, Pataudi led India on its maiden New Zealand tour, which ended in India winning the Test series 3–1. In 1970–71, Ajit Wadekar took over the captaincy from Pataudi. Under Wadekar's captaincy, India registered its first Test series win in the West Indies and England. India played its first ODI in 1974, also under his captaincy. India won its first ODI under the captaincy of Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan in the 1975 Cricket World Cup, against East Africa. Between 1975–76 and 1978–79, Bishen Singh Bedi captained the team in 22 Tests and 4 ODIs, winning 6 Tests and one ODI.
Single wicket was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and its matches were generally considered top-class. In this form, although each team may have from one to six players, there is only one batsman in at a time and he must face every delivery bowled while his innings lasts. Single wicket has rarely been played since limited overs cricket began. Matches tended to have two innings per team like a full first-class one and they could end in a draw.