Twenty20 cricket, the shortest format of the gentleman’s game, is all the rage in India these days, but when the Indian men’s cricket squad walked onto the ground in Johannesburg 14 years ago, only a few could have claimed to understand what it was all about.
On December 1, 2006, the Indian cricket team played their first game in the shortest format. A one-off T20 international between the two teams was included in the bilateral series in South Africa. After going winless in the ODI series, the men in blue won their second match of the tour.
The only other time they won was in the first of three Tests. India, led by Virender Sehwag, struck the winning run off the last ball following a fine bowling effort that limited the Proteas to 127 in their 20 overs.
The Indian team was: Virender Sehwag (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Mongia, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Sreesanth
For a long time, Virender Sehwag has played the role of the opening batsman for the men in blue. The flamboyant right-hander, along with Sachin Tendulkar, used to wreak havoc on bowling attacks all over the world. In October 2015, he declared his retirement from all forms of cricket. Off the field, the Delhi batsman is known for being outspoken and honest on Twitter, which has frequently put him in hot water. He is currently a commentator as well.
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag started the batting, but only made 10 runs, including two boundaries, before being dismissed by Charl Langeveldt. The Mumbai batsman had a successful IPL career as well. In the same year that he retired from international cricket, he completed his final season. He was the fifth-highest run-getter in IPL history at the time of his retirement from the T20 tournament. Tendulkar was named as the ambassador for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after his retirement.
Despite the fact that Mongia was not the most talented player on the team, his ability to bat as a floater batsman earned him a spot in the playing eleven. In 2007, he last played an international game, a 50-over match against Bangladesh in Dhaka. In 2008, he last appeared in a competitive game. In September 2019, the 42-year-old declared his retirement from all forms of cricket.
MS Dhoni built a limited-overs cricket dynasty that went on to achieve incredible success. After a year, Dhoni was in charge of the Indian squad that won the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007. On the 74th anniversary of India’s independence, Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket on August 15, 2020. In the IPL, he is presently the captain of CSK.
The 34-year-old did make a few international appearances over the following several years, but his inconsistent form prevented him from cementing his place in the Indian side. In the first T20 international, the Tamil Nadu batsman stepped in at a crucial stage and smashed an unbeaten 31 off 28 balls to lead India to victory in a nail-biting chase. He is presently a KKR player.
For a long time, the Uttar Pradesh left-handed batsman was permanent in India’s limited-overs squads. Suresh Raina established himself as a limited-overs mainstay with his broad variety of strokes and ability to expertly select the gaps. He is now a member of the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.
Irfan Pathan began his career as one of India’s most lethal swing bowlers. He was a vital component of the winning ICC World T20 side in 2007. Later in his career, Irfan played a key part in India’s tri-series victory against Australia in Australia in 2008. Currently, the 35-year-old works as a cricket analyst.
Harbhajan Singh, India’s most successful off-spin bowler, took over as head of the spin-bowling department when Anil Kumble retired. He hasn’t retired from international cricket, but given India’s preference for youthful spin spinners, Bhajji’s chances of returning are slim.
In all honesty, Zaheer Khan had developed into one of India’s most talented bowlers. While the seasoned fast bowler still had his tricks under his sleeve, age had caught up with him and slowed him down. In 2017, Zaheer played his final season in the IPL.
For the national squad, Ajit Agarkar was a highly useful new-ball bowler. Despite having all of the talents necessary to become one of the finest bowlers in both ODI and Test cricket, he was never able to break through in red-ball cricket. Agarkar presently works as a cricket commentator.
Sreesanth’s name is most known for catching the most significant catch of his career, which helped India win the first-ever T20 World Cup. However, the Kerala speedster was in and out of the game, for the most part, owing to disciplinary issues. In 2021, Sreesanth will play for Kerala in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy.