Fan rivalry and cross-border tension has created a strong rivalry between the Indian and the Pakistani cricket teams. In tours between these two nations, cricket visas are often employed to accommodate for the tens of thousands of fans wishing to cross the border to watch cricket. This intense fan dedication is one of the major causes of the BCCI's financial success.
In 1876–77, an England team took part in what was retrospectively recognised as the first-ever Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Australia. The rivalry between England and Australia gave birth to The Ashes in 1882, and this has remained Test cricket's most famous contest. Test cricket began to expand in 1888–89 when South Africa played England.
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.
Many of the Indian cricket team's records are also world records, for example Sachin Tendulkar's century tally (in Tests and ODIs) and run tally (also in both Tests and ODIs). Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 183 not out against Sri Lanka in 2005 is the world record score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs. The Indian cricket team also holds the record sequence of 17 successful run-chases in ODIs, which ended in a dramatic match against the West Indies in May 2006, which India lost by just 1 run when Yuvraj Singh was bowled by Dwayne Bravo's full toss.
According to the social historian Derek Birley, there was a "great upsurge of sport after the Restoration" in 1660. Gambling on sport became a problem significant enough for Parliament to pass the 1664 Gambling Act, limiting stakes to £100 which was, in any case, a colossal sum exceeding the annual income of 99% of the population. Along with prizefighting, horse racing and blood sports, cricket was perceived to be a gambling sport. Rich patrons made matches for high stakes, forming teams in which they engaged the first professional players. By the end of the century, cricket had developed into a major sport which was spreading throughout England and was already being taken abroad by English mariners and colonisers – the earliest reference to cricket overseas is dated 1676. A 1697 newspaper report survives of "a great cricket match" played in Sussex "for fifty guineas apiece" – this is the earliest known match that is generally considered top-class.
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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.
A bowler reaches his delivery stride by means of a "run-up" and an over is deemed to have begun when the bowler starts his run-up for the first delivery of that over, the ball then being "in play". Fast bowlers, needing momentum, take a lengthy run up while bowlers with a slow delivery take no more than a couple of steps before bowling. The fastest bowlers can deliver the ball at a speed of over 145 kilometres per hour (90 mph) and they sometimes rely on sheer speed to try to defeat the batsman, who is forced to react very quickly. Other fast bowlers rely on a mixture of speed and guile by making the ball seam or swing (i.e. curve) in flight. This type of delivery can deceive a batsman into miscuing his shot, for example, so that the ball just touches the edge of the bat and can then be "caught behind" by the wicket-keeper or a slip fielder. At the other end of the bowling scale is the spin bowler who bowls at a relatively slow pace and relies entirely on guile to deceive the batsman. A spinner will often "buy his wicket" by "tossing one up" (in a slower, steeper parabolic path) to lure the batsman into making a poor shot. The batsman has to be very wary of such deliveries as they are often "flighted" or spun so that the ball will not behave quite as he expects and he could be "trapped" into getting himself out. In between the pacemen and the spinners are the medium paced seamers who rely on persistent accuracy to try to contain the rate of scoring and wear down the batsman's concentration.
India was invited to The Imperial Cricket Council in 1926, and made their debut as a Test playing nation in England in 1932, led by CK Nayudu, who was considered as the best Indian batsman at the time. The one-off Test match between the two sides was played at Lord's in London. The team was not strong in their batting at this point and went on to lose by 158 runs. India hosted its first Test series in the year 1933. England was the visiting team that played 2 Tests in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta (now Kolkata). The visitors won the series 2-0. The Indian team continued to improve throughout the 1930s and '40s but did not achieve an international victory during this period. In the early 1940s, India didn't play any Test cricket due to the Second World War. The team's first series as an independent country was in late 1947 against Sir Donald Bradman's Invincibles (a name given to the Australia national cricket team of that time). It was also the first Test series India played which was not against England. Australia won the five-match series 4–0, with Bradman tormenting the Indian bowling in his final Australian summer. India subsequently played their first Test series at home not against England against the West Indies in 1948. West Indies won the 5-Test series 1–0.
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player (so they are "out"). Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground. When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match's statistical information.
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.
The Laws state that, throughout an innings, "the ball shall be bowled from each end alternately in overs of 6 balls". The name "over" came about because the umpire calls "Over!" when six balls have been bowled. At this point, another bowler is deployed at the other end, and the fielding side changes ends while the batsmen do not. A bowler cannot bowl two successive overs, although a bowler can (and usually does) bowl alternate overs, from the same end, for several overs which are termed a "spell". The batsmen do not change ends at the end of the over, and so the one who was non-striker is now the striker and vice-versa. The umpires also change positions so that the one who was at "square leg" now stands behind the wicket at the non-striker's end and vice-versa.