It all started at Headingley, way back in 1974 when the Indian team played its first-ever One-Day International - against England under the leadership of Ajit Wadekar.

For most players, it was a journey into the unknown. The format was different from the traditional Test cricket; the players knew they had very little reaction time, and most importantly, it was also about showing the skills.

With Brijesh Patel scoring 82 and the captain scoring 67, India reached 265 in 53.5 overs (back in the day, ODI cricket was a 60-over format). England won the game, riding on John Edrich 90. But that fixture was a learning experience for the Indian team.

‘No time to wait and watch’

Cut to February 5, 2022. On the eve of India’s 1000th ODI, Farokh Engineer, who was India’s wicketkeeper-batter in the first one-dayer, is nostalgic. “This shows how time flies. As I look back, it feels like yesterday, but actually it has been 49 years…” Engineer tells Sportstar from his Manchester home.

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Batting at No. 5, the flamboyant Engineer scored 32 off 51 deliveries before being trapped leg before by Chris Old. “I was very disappointed with the dismissal. For us, ODI was then an experiment. It was a great experience for all of us, we relished it. Back then, who would have thought that four decades later, there would be another new format coming in with the advent of T20s and there would be IPL and Big Bash…” Engineer says.

“I still feel that I was made for one-dayers because I liked hitting the ball hard and there was wicketkeeping to back me up. For us, the format was new but we knew that we got to make quick decisions. There was no time to wait and watch,” he says with a smile.

From being apprehensive, Indian cricketers soon adapted the format.

Changes galore

The Indian team played the 100th ODI against Australia in Srinagar in 1986 and with the format becoming popular by the day, the team played its 200th game in just six years, when India played Australia in the second semifinal of the Benson and Hedges World Series in Sydney.

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A young Sachin Tendulkar was part of the team. And being a witness to several milestone moments, Tendulkar feels that every generation has played cricket differently.

“Every generation has played cricket differently. I was not there in 1974, so I can only speak from 1989 and I feel these were the changes. There have been so many changes – from one white ball to two white balls, from four fielders in the ring to five fielders in the ring,” Tendulkar said, explaining how the game has evolved.

Over the years, the format gave an opportunity to several youngsters to prove their mettle.

Playing with legends


The Natwest Trophy final against England in 2002 is the “most memorable innings” of Mohammad Kaif's career.


A young Mohammad Kaif was part of the Indian team in its 500th ODI - against England at Chester-le-Street in 2002. “The match was called off after one innings because of rain. But trust me, back then, I did not know that I was playing a historic match. We have all grown up idolising the stars like Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar. So, for me, the biggest thing was that I got to play so many ODIs for India along with the legends like Tendulkar, (Rahul) Dravid, Sourav Ganguly…”

Having seen India’s ODI team come a long way, Kaif admits that the Natwest Trophy final against England in 2002, in which he single-handedly guided the Indian team to title win, was the “most memorable innings” of his career.

“It has been an honour and privilege to play so many milestone matches for Indian cricket. And the Natwest final will always be special because I was young and confident that I could guide the team home. I did exactly that. I even had memorable ODI innings against Zimbabwe in the Champions Trophy and also against New Zealand. ODI cricket was a learning for me, and I am honoured that I was part of that great team, with so many legends around…”