Although cricket was introduced to India by European merchant sailors in the 18th century, and the first cricket club was established in Calcutta (currently known as Kolkata) in 1792, India's national cricket team did not play its first Test match until 25 June 1932 at Lord's, becoming the sixth team to be granted Test cricket status. In its first fifty years of international cricket, India was one of the weaker teams, winning only 35 of the first 196 Test matches it played. From 1932 India had to wait until 1952, almost 20 years for its first Test victory. The team, however, gained strength in the 1970s with the emergence of players such as batsmen Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath, all-rounder Kapil Dev and the Indian spin quartet of Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Bishen Singh Bedi.
The domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. In addition, the BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition, which is also one of the biggest sports leagues in the world and the biggest cricket league in the world. The Indian cricket team is also accredited with the honour of winning all the ICC tournaments under M.S. Dhoni's captaincy, which is a world record. While cricket is by far the most popular sport in the country it is not the country's national sport since India has no national sport.
An early casualty of change was the Bombay Quadrangular tournament, which had been a focal point of Indian cricket for over 50 years. The new India had no place for teams based on ethnic origin. As a result, the Ranji Trophy came into its own as the national championship. The last-ever Bombay Pentangular, as it had become, was won by the Hindus in 1945–46.
The British brought cricket to India in the early 1700s, with the first cricket match played in 1721. In 1848, the Parsi community in Bombay formed the Oriental Cricket Club, the first cricket club to be established by Indians. After slow beginnings, the Europeans eventually invited the Parsis to play a match in 1877. By 1912, the Parsis, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims of Bombay played a quadrangular tournament with the Europeans every year. In the early 1900s, some Indians went on to play for the England cricket team. Some of these, such as Ranjitsinhji and KS Duleepsinhji were greatly appreciated by the British and their names went on to be used for the Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy – two major first-class tournaments in India. In 1911, an Indian team went on their first official tour of the British Isles, but only played English county teams and not the England cricket team.
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.
Cricket remained a low-key local pursuit for much of the century. It is known, through numerous references found in the records of ecclesiastical court cases, to have been proscribed at times by the Puritans before and during the Commonwealth. The problem was nearly always the issue of Sunday play as the Puritans considered cricket to be "profane" if played on the Sabbath, especially if large crowds and/or gambling were involved.
The decision to attempt a run is ideally made by the batsman who has the better view of the ball's progress, and this is communicated by calling: usually "yes", "no" or "wait". More than one run can be scored from a single hit: hits worth one to three runs are common, but the size of the field is such that it is usually difficult to run four or more. To compensate for this, hits that reach the boundary of the field are automatically awarded four runs if the ball touches the ground en route to the boundary or six runs if the ball clears the boundary without touching the ground within the boundary. In these cases the batsmen do not need to run. Hits for five are unusual and generally rely on the help of "overthrows" by a fielder returning the ball. If an odd number of runs is scored by the striker, the two batsmen have changed ends, and the one who was non-striker is now the striker. Only the striker can score individual runs, but all runs are added to the team's total.
Since 2000, the Indian team underwent major improvements under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly and guidance of John Wright, India's first ever foreign coach. India maintained their unbeaten home record against Australia in Test series after defeating them in 2001. The series was famous for the Kolkata Test match, in which India became only the third team in the history of Test cricket to win a Test match after following on. Australian captain Steve Waugh labelled India as the "Final Frontier" as a result of his side's inability to win a Test series in India. Victory in 2001 against the Australians marked the beginning of a dream run for India under their captain Ganguly, winning Test matches in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies and England. The England series is also known for India's highest ODI run-chase of 325 runs at Lord's which came in the Natwest ODI Series final against England. In the same year, India were joint-winners of the ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka and then went to the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa where they reached the final, only to be beaten by Australia. The 2003–04 season also saw India play out a Test series in Australia where they drew 1–1 with the world champions, and then win a Test and ODI series in Pakistan.
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The captain is often the most experienced player in the team, certainly the most tactically astute, and can possess any of the main skillsets as a batsman, a bowler or a wicket-keeper. Within the Laws, the captain has certain responsibilities in terms of nominating his players to the umpires before the match and ensuring that his players conduct themselves "within the spirit and traditions of the game as well as within the Laws".
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India has had six regular Test captains since Mohammad Azharuddin took charge in 1989. Azharuddin led the team in 47 Test matches from 1989–90 to 1998–99, winning 14, and in 174 ODIs, winning 90. He was followed by Sachin Tendulkar, who captained the team in 25 Test matches and 73 ODIs in the late 1990s; Tendulkar was relatively unsuccessful as a captain, winning only 4 Test matches and 23 ODIs. He was replaced as ODI captain by Ajay Jadeja and then by Sourav Ganguly.
A new jersey was unveiled by Nike with a bolder ultramarine blue shade and a new tricolour accent placed on both sides of the jersey in 2010. A reddish-orange shade was used as the secondary colour on this uniform. In 2014, new kits were released with a slightly darker shade of blue and a minimal accent design over the shoulders. Nike released new kits once again in 2015 with a similar shade of blue and no accents. In March 2019 before the World Cup, a new design was unveiled by Nike with a prominent two-tone blue colour. The front of the jersey sported a similar shade of blue as with the previous versions while the sides, arms and back were given a lighter shade of blue. A minimal orange accent was also incorporated on the sides. During the ICC World Cup 2019, for a match against England, as mandated by the ICC, an alternate jersey with orange acquiring the back and shoulders and navy blue at the front was introduced. This was the first time a different colour and not blue had become a dominant colour on the India jersey. The match against England was also a special match, called #OneDay4Children, organised by the ICC between the top 2 ranked ODI teams in 2019. Also, this happens to be the only occasion where the alternate jersey was used by India till date.
The Indian women's cricket team has a much lower profile than the men's team. For all national women's cricket teams, the female players are paid much less their male counterparts, and the women's teams do not receive as much popular support or recognition as the men's team. The women's teams also have a less packed schedule compared to men's teams and play fewer matches. The Indian women's cricket team played its first Test match in 1976, when they drew with the West Indies in a six-match series.
The inter-war years were dominated by Australia's Don Bradman, statistically the greatest Test batsman of all time. Test cricket continued to expand during the 20th century with the addition of the West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930) and India (1932) before the Second World War and then Pakistan (1952), Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992), Bangladesh (2000), Ireland and Afghanistan (both 2018) in the post-war period. South Africa was banned from international cricket from 1970 to 1992 as part of the apartheid boycott.
In the late 19th century, a former cricketer, English-born Henry Chadwick of Brooklyn, New York, was credited with devising the baseball box score (which he adapted from the cricket scorecard) for reporting game events. The first box score appeared in an 1859 issue of the Clipper. The statistical record is so central to the game's "historical essence" that Chadwick is sometimes referred to as "the Father of Baseball" because he facilitated the popularity of the sport in its early days.
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.
The wicket-keeper (sometimes called simply the "keeper") is a specialist fielder subject to various rules within the Laws about his equipment and demeanour. He is the only member of the fielding side who can effect a stumping and is the only one permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards. Depending on their primary skills, the other ten players in the team tend to be classified as specialist batsmen or specialist bowlers. Generally, a team will include five or six specialist batsmen and four or five specialist bowlers, plus the wicket-keeper.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the governing body for the Indian cricket team and first-class cricket in India. The Board has been operating since 1929 and represents India at the International Cricket Council. It is amongst the richest sporting organisations in the world. It sold media rights for India's matches from 2006–2010 for US$612,000,000. It manages the Indian team's sponsorships, its future tours and team selection.
Cricket has close historical ties with Australian rules football and many players have competed at top levels in both sports. In 1858, prominent Australian cricketer Tom Wills called for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with "a code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during the off-season. The Melbourne Football Club was founded the following year, and Wills and three other members codified the first laws of the game. It is typically played on modified cricket fields.