India began its journey as a cricketing nation at Lord’s in 1932, but the after-effects of Partition were felt on the cricket team too as a few players who represented the country before Independence migrated to Pakistan. Lala Amarnath became India’s first captain after Independence as the team embarked on its maiden tour of Australia in November 1947. India’s first Test win arrived only five years later, with the 1950s and 60s being a period of gradual growth.

Pioneers who set the stage

The opening pages of Indian cricket history are a colourful, vibrant mosaic that encompasses its strengths and weaknesses in equal measure. They tell an engrossing story of human quest for excellence in the midst of intrigue and chaos.

A tale of individual triumphs in the backdrop of religious identities, palace intrigues, divided loyalties, colonial servitude represented by a cast of characters whose idiosyncrasies would be a delight of any fiction writer.

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A portrait of Lala Amarnath, who led India in their first Test series after Independence. Getty Images

Though India gained Independence on August 15, 1947, to understand the history of Indian cricket and what it meant to a nation reborn, one must go a few decades back.

Polly Umrigar – India’s original batting master

In a definitive book on Indian batters, the biggest chapters are likely to be on Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. But a tome on Indian batting heroes must start with the country’s great post-Independence stalwart Polly Umrigar. A tall and well-built batter and bowler—his first lessons were on getting the ball to swing while he shone as a Test off-spinner— Umrigar accumulated pretty much every Indian batting record in a Test career (1948-1962) that began in India’s early days as a free nation, extending for 14 years. Read more

A close-up shot of Polly Umrigar.

India’s many firsts

A picture of the scoreboard from India’s first Test win over England in 1952.

In the first phase of Independence, the Indian team achieved many firsts on the cricketing field including its maiden Test win and maiden overseas series victory.We take a look at some of their memorable matches. Read more

The numbers game

India’s quest to establish itself as a cricketing nation took time. While there were some excellent individual performances during the period from 1947 to 1970, victories were hard to come by. We take a look at India’s record and the top batters and bowlers. Read more and view graphics

Wicket tales: An abrupt end to Gupte’s career

Indian cricket has had a rich collection of interesting and controversial stories to narrate over the years. We take a look at some of the famous anecdotes from the first phase after Independence… Read more

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru meets the Indian players.

Must watch Videos that capture the era

From the field A series of HT podcasts about some of the greatest players to shape Indian cricket

One of HT's most popular sports podcasts on the big talking points from the sporting world.