There are several significant dates in Indian cricket history. Take June 25 for instance. A later generation would easily remember it as the day that India won the World Cup in England in 1983, while deeper followers of the game will identify it as the date India began her international journey at Lord’s in 1932.
August 24 is another historic date which Indian cricket fans will recall with relish – the day India finally won a Test and a series in England for the first time by winning the match at the Oval in 1971. It should also be easy to remember February 10 â€“ the day India won her first Test match at Chepauk in 1952.
March 10 has to be one of the most significant dates in Indian cricket, for on this day 14 yearsÂ apart two great triumphs were notched up.Â In 1971, India scored their maiden Test victory over West Indies and that was enough to give them the series played in the Caribbean. In 1985, India beat back successive challenges from Pakistan, England, Australia and New Zealand and won the World Championship of Cricket one day tournament in Melbourne with another victory over Pakistan in the title clash. Both triumphs were also notable because they were unexpected. When the Indians toured the Caribbean islands in 1971 they were rated as no-hopers.
In 23 Tests between the two countries dating back to 1948, India had never taken even the first innings lead. They had lost 12 matches and drawn eleven. And yet in the first Test at Kingston India not only took the first innings lead but also enforced the follow on before West Indies managed to save the Test.
However, the home team could not escape defeat in the second Test at Port of Spain. India dominated the match literally from the first ball when Abid Ali bowled Roy Fredericks and finally on March 10, registered a seven-wicket victory with a day to spare â€“ their first victory over the West Indies in 25 Tests.Â Interestingly, the Test also marked the debut of Gavaskar.
Fourteen years later, Gavaskar was at the helm when the Indians took off for Australia. The Test series and the one-day series against England at home had just been lost and the atmosphere was anything but congenial. India were the reigning World Cup champions alright but since that memorable June day in 1983, their record had taken a beating. They had been outclassed 0-5 by the West Indies in 1983-84 and also went down to Australia at the start of the following season.
The WCC was going to be particularly tough assignment for all the seven Test playing nations were taking part. India were placed in group A along with Australia, England and Pakistan, while group B comprised New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka.
On current form, India were rated rank outsiders and given little chance of making the semifinals. But once the tournament began there was a transformation. The diffidence of the England series was a thing of the past and the Indians played confidently, even aggressively.
One amazing win followed another as the bowlers picked up the wickets at regular intervals and the batsmen got the runs at a brisk pace. Pakistan were beaten, then England and then Australia and India had made it to the semifinals. With another emphatic win over New Zealand, India unexpectedly made it to the title clash against Pakistan who had shocked West Indies in the other semifinal.
By now, however, the Indians were playing like a well oiledÂ machine that was purring along. They were simply unstoppable and an eight-wicket victory over Imran Khan and his men was the perfect manner in which to end a tournament where they had a dream run.
And, in a poll conducted a few years ago, the WCC triumph was rated even higher than the World Cup victory.
For one thing the opposition was stronger and the victories were all emphatic in nature.Â Also, this was an all-win record whereas during the World Cup campaign two years before the Indians won six matches but lost two.
The 25th anniversary of the WCC triumph is as good a time as any to recall a very significant date in Indian cricket. Oh yes, March 10, whether 1971 or 1985, is one of the dates remembered with relish by Indian cricket fans.