'We have come a long way as a Test team'

India's Test journey since 1932 has been colourful, and on the eve of the 500th Test, some distinguished links in the long chain of Indian cricket describe its various phases.

The Kolkata Test in 2001 is a popular choice as the most memorable Indian Test.   -  V. V. Krishnan

 

Madan Lal: Our early cricket suffered from lack of facilities. There were no proper grounds too. But the ambition to be the best was what distinguished our cricketers from the pre-Independence era. From poor facilities to ultra-modern set up we can see the Board and the cricket has made amazing progress. The transformation has not happened overnight and I take pride in being an Indian cricketer. Test cricket has remained the priority with the administrators.

We have come a long way as a Test team. It is looking a complete team now – winning at home and overseas too with encouraging consistency. History has taught us to correct the mistakes and it feels nice to be counted among the top two of the world. This is a young side that promises a lot. The team is as competitive as any and no one can take India lightly in Test cricket. The turning point for Indian cricket was the 1971 triumph at Port of Spain when we chased 400-plus and stunned the world. It remains my favourite Test and moment.

 

Maninder Singh: If you look at the facilities and infrastructure that was available to the past cricketers it would be unfair to compare but Indian cricket has made steady progress. It must have been a heady feeling in the country when we made our Test debut in 1932. In the early years we did not win overseas but slow India managed to make an impact. There was always the hope that India will excel at cricket and Tiger Pataudi showed the way.

I know we never believed we would win but now we are No. 1 or No. 2 in the world. India has become a good Test team and I know it would only grow from where it is. Personally the Kolkata Test of 2001 when we beat Australia courtesy VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid will always be the best I have seen. Among my favourite Test memories is the 1986 triumph in England.

 

Venkatapathy Raju: I think the concept of winning was driven home on the 1986 tour to England, three years after the World Cup win. The Tied Test has remained etched in my memory even though my favourite Test is the VVS Laxman-Rahul Dravid Test at Kolkata in 2001. What a match it was! My best moment will be the match against Sri Lanka in 1990 at Chandigarh when I finished with eight wickets for the match. The 1983 World Cup and the 1986 England series win gave Indian cricket a great momentum. Oppositions would not take us seriously but everything changed after that.

We had some brilliant players but failed to play as a team. A draw was treated as a victory. It has been a transformed team from the time Sourav Ganguly took over the captaincy. The team won regularly and played a refreshingly aggressive brand of cricket.

 

Venkatesh Prasad: It has been a wonderful Test journey. Of late, India has played fantastic cricket. The approach is different, very professional and the team is looking to win. The players understand the situation and react accordingly. It was different before our times when there were no facilities but we had some of the greatest Test cricketers. There were not many overseas wins but at home India was always formidable and the legacy has been passed on over the years.

We are a superb Test team now. I can never forget the Chennai Test against Pakistan in 1999. Even though we lost it was a great contest. The best part of it was the amazing response from the crowd. I gave my best in that match (5 for 0 in the second innings). It was a great feeling. I have seen India grow as a Test team since then and expect it to dominate world cricket for a long time.

 

Chetan Sharma: India’s Test journey has been fruitful. Yes, it was not a good side in the initial years but it improved and gave a good account of itself. The start was slow but the journey was steady. The team learnt to play in different conditions and the challenges only made the players understand the importance of consistency. India has made progress in every decade. Once the team started winning overseas the reputation also gained.

The 1986 tour to England when we won 2-0 was a landmark series for Indian cricket. We best a very strong opposition. That tour was also good for me personally. My favourite Test moment was snaring the great Roy Dias of Sri Lanka during the 1985 tour. I can see this Indian team growing into a formidable combination under Virat Kohli. He has the fire and the team has the desire to remain World No. 1.

 

Nayan Mongia: I think overall we have had a fantastic Test journey. The early shortcomings were made up as the team struggled on all fronts but learnt to travel better and win matches overseas with passage of time. We were never a team to be taken easy and from the time of Tiger Pataudi the emphasis was on playing decent cricket.

We learnt from hearing their inspiring stories. Over a period of time India became a strong Test team and handled pressure and met the expectations in style. The scenario has changed in the past few years. The team has come to play aggressive cricket and it has helped because the number of victories have also grown. For me the greatest Test was the 2001 match at Kolkata when we bat Australia. It was an epic. Personally I will always cherish my Test debut (at Lucknow in 1994). It was a dream come true.