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 current sponsor of the team is BYJU's. OPPO's sponsorship was to run from 2017 until 2022, but was handed over to BYJU's on 5 September 2019. Previously, the Indian team was sponsored by Star India from 2014 to 2017, Sahara India Pariwar from 2002 to 2013 and ITC Limited (with Wills and ITC Hotels brands) from 1993 to 2002. The current kit sponsor for the Indian team until September 2020 is Nike, which in 2005 acquired the rights from BCCI. The deal with Nike has been extended twice for a period of five years each time; in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Paytm acquired the title sponsorship for all matches played by the team within India in 2015 and extended the same in 2019 until 2023. Star Sports Network is the official broadcaster until 2023 for all matches the team plays in India.
Traditionally much stronger at home than abroad, the Indian team has improved its overseas form, especially in limited-overs cricket, since the start of the 21st century, winning Test matches in Australia, England and South Africa. It has won the Cricket World Cup twice – in 1983 under the captaincy of Kapil Dev and in 2011 under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. After winning the 2011 World Cup, India became only the third team after West Indies and Australia to have won the World Cup more than once, and the first cricket team to win the World Cup at home. It also won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, under the captaincy of MS Dhoni. It was also the joint champions of 2002 ICC Champions Trophy, along with Sri Lanka.
During the 1980s, India developed a more attack-focused batting line-up with talented batsmen such as Mohammad Azharuddin, Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri prominent during this decade. (Despite India's victory in the Cricket World Cup in 1983, the team performed poorly in the Test arena, including 28 consecutive Test matches without a victory. However, India won the Asia Cup in 1984 and won the World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985.) The 1987 Cricket World Cup was held in India.
In 2016, "The Grand Home Season" began for India, including series at home against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. India whitewashed New Zealand to regain the number one ranking in Test cricket after almost 10 years. Before the series against England in November 2016, MS Dhoni resigned as captain of India in limited overs, thus handing the captaincy to Virat Kohli across all formats. India beat England across all three formats, with a notable 4–0 win in the Test series. This was followed by Test series wins against Bangladesh and Australia, which meant India reclaimed the Border Gavaskar Trophy. Ravichandran Ashwin became the fastest cricketer of all time to reach 250 wickets; he and Ravindra Jadeja occupied the top two spots in both the ICC Bowlers and All-Rounders rankings at the time. In the process, India became the third team (after South Africa and Australia) to have won their most recent Test series against all the other Test-playing nations. India holds an unbeaten streak of 8 consecutive Test series wins as of 19 August 2017.
In the approximate centre of the field is a rectangular pitch (see image, below) on which a wooden target called a wicket is sited at each end; the wickets are placed 22 yards (20 m) apart. The pitch is a flat surface 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide, with very short grass that tends to be worn away as the game progresses (cricket can also be played on artificial surfaces, notably matting). Each wicket is made of three wooden stumps topped by two bails.