By Vivek Krishnan

India’s quest to establish itself as a cricketing nation took time. While there were some excellent individual performances during this phase, victories were hard to come by as the numbers from 1947-70 indicate.

India made their Test debut against England at Lord’s in 1932 under the captaincy of CK Nayudu. Till the time of Independence on August 15, 1947, they had played just 10 Tests, each of them against their colonial rulers and suffered six losses while managing four draws. In November 1947, India embarked on their first tour of Australia to play an Australian team led by Don Bradman

Vinoo Mankad, a right-handed batter and left-arm spinner, established his all-round credentials on the tour with two centuries and 12 wickets. The tour is also remembered for Mankad running out Australian opener Bill Brown at the non-striker’s end for backing up too far. The mode of dismissal, though perfectly lawful, was controversially labelled “Mankading” thereafter.

India’s first Test win came only five years later. In Madras in February 1952, in their 25th Test, India defeated England by an innings and eight runs to achieve their first win ever. Mankad was the star once again, claiming 8/55 in the first innings and 4/53 in the second to finish with match figures of 12/108.

India’s first-ever series win also came later that year, beating neighbours Pakistan 2-1 in a five-Test series. India’s first overseas Test series win came under the leadership of Tiger Pataudi in 1967, winning three of the four Tests against New Zealand to clinch a 3-1 series victory.

Top batter: Polly Umrigar

While Vijay Hazare averaged 50.46 in 27 Tests during this period for India, the leading run-getter was Polly Umrigar. In 59 Tests, he made 3,631 runs at an average of 42.22 with 12 centuries and 14 fifties. By the time that he played his last Test in 1962, he held the record for the most runs and centuries by an Indian batter. He was the first Indian to score a double century in Tests, hitting 223 against New Zealand in Hyderabad in November 1955.

Top bowler: Vinoo Mankad

Mankad’s all-round ability has already been highlighted, but he was also the highest wicket-taker for India during that era. In 41 Tests, he claimed 151 scalps. His best bowling figures in an innings was 8/52 against Pakistan in 1952. That Mankad also scored 2,109 runs at an average of 31.47 speaks volumes about his importance to the Indian team back then.

1947 - 1970