In a momentous occasion for India, the team is playing its 500th test match against New Zealand. It is only the fourth country to achieve this distinction, after England, Australia and the West Indies.
The team has indeed come a long way since 1932. But while we are ranked number 2 in the ICC test rankings and go in as favourites in the home series against New Zealand, things were quite different then.
So what was it like back in 1932?
India set foot on the shores of England as rank underdogs under the captaincy of Cottari Kanakaiya Nayadu and played its first official test match on June 25, 1932. The England team was led by Douglas Jardine who was also at the helm in the infamous ‘Bodyline’ series against Australia later that year.
The match was played on four days with June 26 being a rest day.
India were an untested commodity making its first international appearance in a test match. But in Amar Singh and Mohammad Nissar, they had two medium-fast bowlers of some repute. The legendary English cricketer Len Hutton said in 1970, “There is no better bowler in the world today than Amar Singh”. This was 34 years after he had faced him, while playing for Yorkshire.
Nissar rattled the England top order and picked up five wickets in the first innings. England were all out for a modest 259 with the captain making a top score of 79.
However, the visitors could not capitalize on the advantage and folded up for 189. Nayudu top scored with 40 runs.
The second innings played out similar to the first, with England scoring 275 runs. Again, the captain led from the front scoring an undefeated 85.
Set a victory target of 346, the Indian team succumbed to the pressure and were all out for 187. The England team thus won the match by 158 runs.
Though India was not expected to create any ripples against an experienced English side, it gave a good account of itself, especially in the bowling department.
Eighty-four years later, as the team plays its 500th test, the first test still serves as a poignant reminder of the humble origins of Indian test cricket.