As India face New Zealand at Kanpur in the first Test in their three-match series, it will be a special occasion. They will be the fourth team after England, Australia, and the West Indies to touch the 500-Test mark.

The game and Indian cricket has evolved and come a long way from the time CK Nayudu led out a motley crew in June 1932 at Lord’s in London for India’s first-ever Test match.

Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy were some of the greats who set the standards in the 1950s, creating the platform for the game to find its place in the national consciousness. It was under the great Hazare that India got their first victory in Test cricket, against England in Madras in 1951.

The team was still making up the numbers for the most part and needed a leader who could infuse an identity into the side. That was where Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi’s contribution was immense in Indian cricket. Despite not having the ammunition to topple England, Australia or West Indies, the gifted Pataudi went all out for a win and was the first who instilled the ethos of team spirit in the Indian team.

Among the many templates that were set for new cricketers to follow suit over the decades, BS Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and Srinvas Venkataraghavan would create their own. Spin would go on to be one of the most crucial weapons that an Indian skipper would have in his bowling arsenal. Here is the leg-spin of Chandrasekhar spinning India to a famous Test and series win against England at the Oval in 1971, which would go on to be a watershed year.

Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev

The duo would make their foray into Indian cricket at different points in the 1970s. It was the era of Bombay’s Little Master and the Haryana Hurricane which forged India into a strong force in international cricket.

Kapil Dev was seen as a pioneer in taking the game to the smaller towns of the country. In Gavaskar, India were lucky to have a technically sound batsman with a huge appetite for runs, who could take on the best in the world.