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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 bat is made of wood, usually salix alba (white willow), and has the shape of a blade topped by a cylindrical handle. The blade must not be more than four and one quarter inches (108 mm) wide and the total length of the bat not more than 38 inches (965 mm). There is no standard for the weight, which is usually between 2 lb 7 oz and 3 lb (1.1 and 1.4 kg).
During the 1970s, the Indian cricket team began to see success overseas beating New Zealand, and holding Australia, South Africa and England to a draw. The backbone of the team were the Indian spin quartet – Bishen Bedi, E.A.S. Prasanna, BS Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, giving rise to what would later be called the Golden Era of Indian cricket history. This decade also saw the emergence of two of India's best ever batsmen, Sunil Gawaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath responsible for the back-to-back series wins in 1971 in the West Indies and in England, under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar.
India recorded their first Test victory, in their 24th match, against England at Madras in 1952. Later in the same year, they won their first Test series, which was against Pakistan. They continued their improvement throughout the early 1950s with a series win against New Zealand in 1956. However, they did not win again in the remainder of the decade and lost badly to strong Australian and English sides. On 24 August 1959, India lost by an innings in the Test to complete the only 5–0 whitewash ever inflicted by England. The next decade saw India's reputation develop as a team with a strong record at home. They won their first Test series against England at home in 1961–62 and also won a home series against New Zealand. They managed to draw home series against Pakistan and Australia and another series against England. In this same period, India also won its first series outside the subcontinent, against New Zealand in 1967–68.
Sachin Tendulkar was the first batsman to score 200 runs (he was unbeaten on 200 from 147 deliveries including 25x4 and 3x6) in a single ODI innings, on 24 February 2010 against South Africa in Gwalior. On 8 December 2011, this achievement was eclipsed by compatriot Virender Sehwag, who scored 219 runs from 149 deliveries (25x4 | 7x6) versus West Indies in Indore. On 13 November 2014 the record was broken by another Indian opening batsmen, Rohit Sharma, who scored 264 runs from 173 deliveries (33x4 | 9x6) against Sri Lanka in Kolkata. In 2013, MS Dhoni became the first captain in history to win all three major ICC trophies- ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011, ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 and ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
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.