India’s journey to 500 Tests: how the stalwarts see it

Sportstar’s commemorative edition of India’s 500 Tests recounts the exciting and memorable journey through the eyes of the players. Who better than the protagonists themselves to tell the tale!

The cover page of Sportstar's commemorative edition of India's 500 Tests.   -  Sportstar

Sportstar’s commemorative edition of India’s 500 Tests recounts the exciting and memorable journey through the eyes of the players. Who better than the protagonists themselves to tell the tale!

Excerpts from the events that unfolded, decade-wise.

Bishan Singh Bedi: The 1960s saw Nawab of Pataudi (jr) bring about an amazing transformation in the side, an impact that is felt even now. He taught us to play for the country and discard all individual interests. It was a pleasant departure from an incident when a captain did not declare till he overhauled a colleague’s score in a Test in Delhi. It cost the team a probable victory. Cricket in that decade was different and enjoyable. The venues were packed and the organisers made merry by selling season tickets (there were no daily tickets).

G. R. Viswanath: In the 1970s, there were no team meetings in the formal sense. We youngsters, along with seniors like Nawab of Pataudi (jr), Ajit Wadekar and Salim Durani, used to take it easy after a hard day’s play. We used to meet informally, maybe, have a drink and discuss the game and the way some of us played. In retrospect, we may call them strategy sessions but, back then, we didn’t feel it that way.

Kapil Dev: When I was trying to make a mark, the Indian team was adapting to the new challenges in international cricket. We were in the process of discovering all-round players and trying to win more matches away from home. It was not easy. Our opponents were tough, especially teams like the West Indies and Australia. However, there was a strong sense of self-belief among the players that we had the potential to produce some explosive cricket.

We trained hard and, most importantly, discovered the importance of fitness. I think the fitness of the side in the 1980s was like never before.

Sachin Tendulkar: As the 1990s were drawing to a close, Anil Kumble delivered a spectacular 10 for 74 against Pakistan on the Ferozeshah Kotla wicket (New Delhi). It was a remarkable feat and yet another example that India was moving in the right direction. Memories of certain events that unfolded during that period keep flooding back. I still remember V. V. S. Laxman’s blazing 167 in Sydney in the 1999-2000 series. It was a brilliant performance which proved that the Indian batsmen could handle quality fast bowling competently.

V. V. S. Laxman (2000s): We learnt to compete against the opposition and not amongst ourselves. The team was one happy family. In the dressing room, there was freedom for each player to express his emotions and views. There was constant banter, the likes of Nehra, Harbhajan, Zaheer and Sehwag leaving us in splits. It was a lively atmosphere, with a lot of music too. Tendulkar, who always travelled with a huge collection of CDs, was the head of music.

Virender Sehwag (post-2010): What I like is the thinking in the dressing room. Most matches are ending in four days and it shows the emphasis is on attaining a result. The batting approach of the Indian team has been very positive and very attacking. It goes down well with the spectators because they love cricket where there is competition.

I am also happy that Indian cricket is in the secure hands of Virat [Kohli], the undisputed leader.