Team India on the brink of ODI record at Vizag, remain torchbearers of 50-over format
India’s journey in one-day international cricket started on July 13 1974 at Headingley in Leeds. Captain Ajit Wadekar (67) led the way with the bat while Brijesh Patel smacked 82 off 78 balls to give a glimpse to Indian cricket fans of what could be expected from this fledgling format. India’s total of 265 was chased down by England with 23 balls to spare in a 55-over a side match. India would lose the second ODI of the series as well.
In fact, by the time Kapil Dev’s team landed in England to take part in the third 50-over World Cup, India had managed to win only two ODI series, a 2-1 triumph over the English at home and a 3-0 whitewash of minnows Sri Lanka also in the backyard. This period included two away losses to arch rivals Pakistan who it seemed had taken to the limited overs format like fish to water and also had a World Cup semi-final (1979) to their credit. India on the other hand were languishing among the strugglers in this format.
Cricket wasn’t India’s obsession still and hockey ruled the roost with a golden past. But a tectonic shift in playing conditions (astro-turf being favoured over grass) meant India were losing their dominance in the sport and neighbours Pakistan were again doing better.
Indian sports needed a booster shot and Kapil’s Devils provided just that with an unimaginable triumph over the Windies as India became world champions. Two years later, Sunil Gavaskar led the team to victory in the World Championship of Cricket in Australia to prove that 1983 was not a flash in the pan.
India would go on to join the elite of ODI cricket in the next decade and a half and also produced the sport’s first ODI phenomenon, Sachin Tendulkar. Armed with this ‘boy wonder’ and a burgeoning population hungry for fast paced cricketing action, the Indian cricket board’s clout grew as the ODIs became the sport’s biggest money spinner.
Australia dominated one-day cricket from 1999 to 2007, but Team India continued to burn bright, often being seen as the worthy challengers to Australia’s throne. Sourav Ganguly’s fiery leadership style helped India achieve successes on the field in ODIs and also paved the way for a bunch of world beaters to take over the baton.
MS Dhoni was the next architect and he wanted to build a dome bigger than any. The moment finally arrived in Ahmedabad in the 2011 World Cup as Australia were dethroned as world champions after three back to back triumphs. Dhoni’s six in Mumbai sealed India’s second World Cup triumph and victory in the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy once again underlined India’s dominance of the format.
The crown was forfeited to Australia in 2015 but India now under Virat Kohli has again emerged as the team to beat in the 50-over format. On Wednesday, the Men in Blue take the field against West Indies at Visakhapatnam in the second match of the series and this will be the team’s 950th ODI.
India will become the first team to play 950 matches of the now 50-over format and remains the second most successful team in the format, behind Australia, in terms of number of matches won. With T20 cricket threatening to take over the numero uno status, it is important for established teams like India to keep re-inventing themselves in ODIs to keep the 50-over format alive and kicking.