India's 20 best Test wins - Part 1

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Mankad gets India off the mark

India v England, Madras, 1952

India had played 24 Tests before February 1952, drawing 12 of them and losing the rest. The first win arrived at Chepauk, in India's 20th year as a Test side, and it came courtesy Vinoo Mankad, whose 8 for 55 in England's first innings had, according to Wisden, "seldom been bettered in Test cricket when it is considered that the pitch gave him little assistance". Five months previously, at Lord's, Mankad had scored 72 and 184 and taken five wickets, only for India to lose by eight wickets.

This performance, though, would not go in vain, as India took a first-innings lead of 191 courtesy centuries from Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar, and 61 from Dattu Phadkar. They did not have to bat again, as Mankad and Ghulam Ahmed bowled India to a win by an innings and 8 runs, and gave England a taste of the trials by spin they would go on to endure on future tours of the country.

By Karthik Krishnaswamy

Pataudi's men break overseas duck

New Zealand v India, Dunedin, 1968

Of all the Test grounds in all the towns in all the world, the southern-most Test venue, in a place cricketers consider the coldest, Dunedin's Carisbrook, was to warm Indian cricket's hearts because it had taken their team 36 years and 43 attempts to bring up its first overseas Test victory.

After a rough tour of Australia, MAK Pataudi's Indians found the pitches slower and friendlier and the opposition gentler. On their first tour to New Zealand, India were a team packed with versatile allrounders and led by an imaginative and ambitious captain.

They took a narrow first-innings lead courtesy half-centuries from Ajit Wadekar -- he would make another in the second innings -- and Farokh Engineer, and a tenth-wicket partnership of 57 between Bishan Bedi and Ramakant Desai. New Zealand lent them a helping hand by dropping eight catches.

In what turned into a second-innings shootout on a soft, wearing pitch, India's spinners came into their own, Erapalli Prasanna leading the way with 6 for 94 in 40 overs. India needed 200 to win and Chandu Borde and ML Jaisimha took them home just after lunch on the final day. India went on to win the series 3-1, with Prasanna taking 24 wickets at 18.79. Three years later came the heady summer of 1971, but for generations to follow, Dunedin 1968 was the first sighting of Indian cricket's holy grail.

By Sharda Ugra

Sunny days in Trinidad

West Indies v India, Port of Spain, 1971

There was little expectation from the India side that travelled to the Caribbean in 1971, until Dilip Sardesai made a double-century in the first Test at Kingston. At 31, many believed his career was dead, that he was lucky to have even been picked, only for him to play the innings of his life. In the same way, India weren't given a chance against West Indies, and they ended up winning the series 1-0. No wonder Sardesai was called the Renaissance Man. Along the way, Indian cricket gained a new batting mainstay, Sunil Gavaskar. He made his debut in the second Test, in Port-of-Spain, and played a key role in India's seven-wicket win with half-centuries in both innings.

It was the spinners, though, who started it all -- Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and S Venkataraghavan toppling West Indies for 214 after they had chosen to bat first. Sardesai helped himself to a hundred and later said, "I was scoring runs at will. I had figured out how to get on top of their bowling. A time comes when you feel nobody can get you out, and I had that feeling all through that Caribbean tour." India gained a lead of 138. Venkat worked his way through West Indies' line-up in the second innings to pick up 5 for 95, while Salim Durani chipped in with the crucial wickets of Garfield Sobers and Clive Lloyd. India's target was 124 -- eminently gettable, especially with Gavaskar at the helm. He would go on to score 774 runs in the series, still a record for a debutant.

By Alagappan Muthu

Chandra works his magic

England v India, The Oval, 1971

Having just beaten West Indies on their turf, Ajit Wadekar's upbeat bunch arrived in the UK. The first two Tests were drawn, and England, who had just won the Ashes 2-0 in Australia, took a 71-run first-innings lead at the Oval. They were unofficially the world's best team at that point, but India had in their ranks the unorthodox skills of Bhagwath Chandrasekhar. Brought on early, Chandra's whirring legbreaks and googlies had England three down for 24. With the steady S Venkataraghavan keeping the pressure on at the other end, and a predatory close-in cordon surrounding them, England had nowhere to hide. Chandra ripped through with figures of 6 for 38, and England were bowled out for 101. India needed 173 to complete their first win on English soil, and got there slowly -- taking 101 overs to do so -- but surely, with Wadekar and Dilip Sardesai rebuilding after the early loss of both openers, and Gundappa Viswanath and Farokh Engineer steering them towards the finish.

As Abid Ali struck the winning boundary and ecstatic crowds poured into the ground, the man who had led India to their triumphs here and in the West Indies was fast asleep. "I went to sleep when I came back to the dressing room after being dismissed," Wadekar said. "I was nudged awake by Ken Barrington, the England manager, who told me that we had won. I said to him that I always knew we'd win."

By Gaurav Kalra