Asia's new found "religion"
The game of cricket spread to African and Asian countries with the rapid expansion of the British Empire.
There is no place other than the sub-continent, at the moment, where cricket is so successfull in terms of the number of admirers as well as in commercial terms.
India & Pakistan are the leading cricketing rivals in the Sub-Continent.
The first match in India was recorded in 1721 when a group of sailors gathered to play in Western India. Within nearly three centuries cricket is India's most popular sport and celebrity cricketers are amongst the wealthiest members of Indian society!
India became the sixth member of the “elite club” alongside England, Australia, South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand in June 1932.
India’s inaugural match with England at Lords, attracted 24,000 strong crowd which included the King of England, who was also then the Emperor of India.
Many believe it encouraged the concept of nationhood for the Indians and proved to be a turning point in India’s struggle for independence.
India had to wait until 1952 to record its first ever Test victory. India beat England by an innings in Madras.
It was in the same year that Pakistan gained Test status.
Once again cricket proved its importance as a forum for reviving human bonds. India clashed with the visiting Pakistan team in 1952 initiating a new intense sporting rivalry between the newly-formed neighbours.
Unlike India, Pakistan managed to record their first ever win within a mere two years in 1954.
As India and Pakistan went to war in 1960, cricket matches were suspended. It was just the beginning of a series of suspensions to come.
Pakistan still remain the only team to beat England in their first ever tour to the cricket’s birth place.
While Pakistan’s initial pioneering era seemed to be diminished during 1960’s, India saw the emergence of new talent in the form of Bedi, Chandrasekar, Prasanna and Pataudi.
Sunil Gavaskar dominated the batting in world cricket during the 1970s. He still holds a world record, having scored the most centuries in Test cricket. Imran Khan, meanwhile, dominated bowling but was also a superb all-rounder.
Ravi Shastri presents the Asian episode of the "Story of Cricket".
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