New Delhi: It's been a fairly long cricketing history between India and England with their first official Test being played way back in 1932. Of course, India wasn't a republic then, but nonetheless the cricket-journey for the country had started with it.
Over the years, as these two countries grew in their cricketing stature, the frequency of playing each other increased too. And, along with it, the history only got richer. Albeit for different significant reasons each time, these matches chronicled not just cricketing history but much more than that.
1946 - India in England
The year would ring a bell that perhaps it wasn't really a time in history when one can think of India indulging in some leisurely game of Test cricket. But then, it happened.
Though India lost the three match series 1-0, it was when cricket woke up to names of legends like Lala Amarnath and Vinoo Mankad in a way they ought to.
In the second Test at Manchester, the duo took five wickets each to bundle out England in the first innings. Amarnath rounded it up with three more, and Mankad with two, in the second.
In the drawn match, no other Indian bowler managed any wicket as these two shared all 15 that fell.
The next Test at The Oval, too was a drawn affair. But not before Vijay Merchant scored a brilliant 128.
It was independent India holding its first Test against England. The emotion can only be depicted in literature sitting now.
But what marks this series as one of the greatest in the game's history for India, is its first ever Test win against England.
India weren't going to play as minnows, at least, not in their attitude.
Sadu Shinde started the show with 6 wickets in the first Test. Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare struck a century each.
In the second match, Hazare strcuk one more. This time Pankaj Roy comes to the party with a century too.
After first three drawn Tests, England rode to an easy win in Kanpur.
Then came the moment of glory for Indian cricket. In Chennai, Vinoo Mankad bowled the spell of his life to claim 8 wickets in the first innings, and rounded it off with 4 more in the second. Roy scored 111 and Polly Umrigar joined him with 136*. India won their first ever Test against England by an innings and 8 runs.
1952 & 1959
The next two Test series were in England, and home team took the revenge. They crushed India 3-0 and 5-0 respecively.
The action was back to India. After three drawn Tests, the stage was set at Eden Gardens. After a decent show with the bat, Salim Durani (5 wickets) and Chandu Borde (4 wickets) ran through the England side. Durani returned to take two more in the second innings. India won the match by 187 runs.
The second Test, and the series, was won in Chennai that had a stellar 103 in 162 balls by Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.
1971 & 1972-73
August 24, 1971. At the Kennington Oval. India script their first ever series win in England.
Two back-to-back series saw India trouncing England at home and away. It was during this time that India was celebrating the brilliance of Farooq Engineer, apart from slowly waking up to a dimunitive batsman called Sunil Gavaskar.
1974; 1976 & 1979-80
England wasn't the one who'd take the humiliation lightly.
They routed India in three consecutive series and also in the Golden Jubilee Test in Mumbai from February 15, 1980.
Sunil Gavaskar's 55 wasn't really enough to give India the platform in Bombay. But this match was supposed to be remembered for other names.
Dilip Doshi grabbed 5 wickets in the first innings to give India a lead.
In the second innings, after the top order failed, a Haryana boy -- who, by then, had already grabbed eyeballs for his all-round abilities -- stood up and scored a brisk 46 to rescue India. He later shared 5 wickets each with Madan Lal to give India a win. Kapil Dev had arrived big time.
Riding on fine centuries by Ravi Shastri and Syed Kirmani, India won the opening Test in Bombay. The match is also remembered for Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, who bowled 77.2 overs to pick up 12 wickets in the match.
England struck back in the second one at Delhi.
The third one in Calcutta was a draw, but it marked the arrival of another boy who'd go on to become one of the finest India has ever had.
Mohammad Azharuddin started his love-affair with the Eden Gardens with a 110 on debut.
The series ultimately ended 2-1, with England smiling back home.
It was one man who made that three-match series in England his own by two consecutive centuries at the Lord's and Leeds. Dilip Vengsarkar was the hero in India's 2-0 series win.
England won the series 1-0. But that was not the reason why world would always remember this particular series. It marked the 'first' of what will be the 'greatest ever'.
England won the first Test at Lord's, that shall be remembered for some prolific batting. Graham Gooch made 333 as he scripted a 309 runs partnership with Alan Lamb (139) in the first i nnings. Gooch went on to add another 192 with Robin Smith (100*).
For India, Ravi Shastri replied with a 100, and was followed up by Md Azharuddin with a 121.
Gooch returned in the second to smash 123 in 113.
In the second match at Manchester, Gooch continued his good run with another century in the first innings. This time he was again joined by Smith and Michael Atherton.
India wasn't willing to give in meekly as Azharuddin replied with a brilliant 179. Sanjay Manjrekar missed a century by 7 runs.
Courtesy a century by Lamb, England gave India a target of 408. India couldn't beat that but drew the match. And in the process came Sachin Tendulkar's first ever Test century (119*).
In the next match at Kennigton Oval, Tendulkar added one more with a 110 after Shastri hit a superb 187 up front.
A whitewash series for England, and joy for India as they romped to a 3-0 win. And, of course, the series was the making of another legend.
While Azharuddin continued his love affair with Eden Gardens with a 182, a bespectacled Karnataka lad grabbed 6 wickets in the match.
In the next, the lanky fellow bettered with 8 from the match. India won again.
In the last Test, the 'unusual leg-spinner' settled for 7. India won again. With 21 wickets he was declared Man-of-the-Series. Anil Kumble showed why he would go on to become India's highest wicket taker.
A pretty new-look India team was touring the British shores. And they got rightly trounced at Edgbaston in the first Test. Nasser Hussain scored a 128 before being caught by a young substitute of Javagal Srinath. Few knew that this very lad will not only become one of the greatest ever in cricket's history, but also India's highest catch-taker (apart from a wicket-keeper)!
June 20, second Test at the Lord's. India saw two debutant walk out. Venkatesh Prasad spearheaded the India ttack with 5 wickets. But a certain, and very unlikely, Sourav Ganguly picked two crucial wickets of Hasser Hussain and Graeme Hick.
India was quickly on the backfoot while replying losing opener Vikram rathour early. Ganguly walked in at No.3... and the rest is history. Lord's witnessed an array of strokeplay as the lad scored 131 on debut.
At No.7 walked in another debutant. And immediately showed that if one man is to stand when others were falling around, it was him. Rahul Dravid agonisingly missed a century as he scored 95, but India for the first time, saw the awesome-foursome in action together.
In next Test, Ganguly hit 136 while Tendulkar came up with 177. Ganguly was the Man-of-the-Series for his two centuries and 6 wickets!
England comes calling as, with the turn of the century, Indian cricket now stands at a stage of transition.
The first Test that India win in Mohali was an example of a fine combination of experience and youth. Anil Kumble takes two, with his 'junior' partner -- Harbhajan Singh -- picking up five wickets in the first innings.
Kumble returns as the big-daddy in the second innings to pick up six, while Bhajji gets two more.
Deep Dasgupta scores his first, and only, Test century to script a India win.
The next two are drawn matches, but Harbhajan continues to rise as Kumble's ideal deputy.
India doesn't manage to survive the improbable challenge of climbing 568 runs in the fourth innings as the middle order fail to click. But that gave a very unlikely Ajit Agarkar (109*) the opportunity to score his only Test century. What better, it came at Lord's!
The last time India will see its famous-five -- Tendulkar, Kumble, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman -- playing together on English soil.
After a draw at Lord's, incidentally, all five of them fire in the Nottingham Test. India win the match, and series, 1-0. Incidentally, it'll be their last too.
Just before England is to tour India, the Mumbai terror attack rocks the country. Worried aboutthe security, many England players refuse to participate.
After quite few rounds of cajoling, England agree to come.
Andrew Strauss rolls the dice with a superb 123 at Chepauk. In reply, India's show can only be termed meek.
Strauss piles on the misery with a 108 in the second innings. This time, Paul Collingwood too comes to the party with a ton.
With 387 needed to win, some early fireworks were the need. Virender Sehwag gave that with a 68-ball 83. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 49th Test century, Yuvraj Singh scored 85*. India win.
The last scar
The summer of 2011 is better to be forgotten. But then, it's hard overlook a 4-0 routing. India was left devastated. But even in that beating, we had a moment to take home -- MS Dhoni bowled his longest ever spell of 8 overs in Test cricket!
It was the Test number 2000 in cricket's history.