When T20 cricket was first invented in 2003, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) weren’t in favour of the format. It took them at least three years to accept the format and India finally played their first T20I on December 1, 2006.
During their tour of South Africa in 2006, the scheduling was done in such a way that a special match organised between the fourth and the fifth ODI. India made its T20I debut against the Proteas at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg. India played superbly in the match and defeated the hosts by six wickets.
South Africa batted first and managed only 126 runs. Dinesh Karthik, with his man of the match performance, helped the visitors finish the match and get the chase done off the second last ball of their innings.
Let’s go back and take a look at the 5 facts you might not know about India’s first T20I:
1. Virender Sehwag was the captain of the team
Going into the South African tour of 2006, Rahul Dravid was the regular captain. He was going to feature in this match as well, but unfortunately, during the third ODI of the series, he got injured and was ruled out of the rest of the series.
Due to the absence of the regular captain, his deputy at the time, Virender Sehwag got an elevation to the captaincy position. The dashing opening batsman went on to lead the team in the last two ODIs along with the one-off T20I. Interestingly, this was the first and last time when Sehwag led the Indian side in T20Is.
He had shone with the bat in the game scoring 34 off 29 balls with five fours and a six. Sehwag has also led the Indian team in four Tests and 12 ODIs, but he has never been the full-time skipper of the team in any format.
2. Dinesh Mongia played his career’s only T20I
Back in the early 2000s, Dinesh Mongia was a player who was looked upon to have a bright future for the Indian team. Mongia played for the national team regularly under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly. He was the part of the squad which ended being the runners-up at the 2003 World Cup.
But soon after the mega event, Mongia started to disappear from the scene. He was being dropped in favour of VVS Laxman or young players like MS Dhoni, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh. From 2004 till 2007, he made very few appearances in the Indian XI, even though his domestic performances were keeping him in the squad.
During the South Africa tour, Mongia was in the squad and this match ended up being his career’s only T20I match ever. As a matter of fact, he was the top-scorer for India with 38 off 45 balls. He had a good partnership with Dinesh Karthik which helped India to win the match.
3. Ajit Agarkar bowled a maiden
Ajit Agarkar was a popular bowler of the Indian side through the lates 90s and early 2000s. The right-arm quick from Mumbai was favoured a lot of by Sourav Ganguly and later by Rahul Dravid. In 191 ODI matches, he picked up 288 wickets. He took all of those wickets at an average of 27. His record was quite good and his batting skills made him a must-have in the national team.
Agarkar was part of the Indian squad which went on to win the inaugural edition of the World T20 in 2007 in South Africa. Like all his teammates, Agarkar made his debut in international T20 cricket in this match. But, this was Agarkar’s first-ever twenty 20 match as he had never played in the format even at the domestic level.
During this match, Agarkar bowled a maiden over as well. Bowling a maiden in T20 is quite rare as the batsmen always tend to look for scoring runs. He also picked up the crucial wickets of Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers in the game. However, while bowling his third over, Agarkar had a slight niggle and couldn’t bowl further. He ended his spell with figures of 2.3-1-10-2.
4. MS Dhoni bagged a two-ball duck batting at four
Now, this might seem surprising but it happened. MS Dhoni didn’t have a great start to his ODI career. He was run out for a duck on his debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong (now Chattogram) in 2004. However, Dhoni smashed a record 148 in his fifth ODI against Pakistan and rest is history.
Going into this tour, there was a lot of expectation from Dhoni. He had established himself as a regular member of the Indian team and now was the regular keeper of the Indian team in both Tests and ODIs. When India played their first T20I, people expected Dhoni to fire as he was one batsman from that middle-order who had the capability of tearing apart oppositions.
In this match, Dhoni came out to bat at no.4 after the dismissal of Virender Sehwag in the 10th over. But, his stay was short-lived. He faced only two balls and was castled by Charl Langeveldt for a duck. Ten months later, Dhoni led the Indian team to a T20 World Cup win at the same venue.
5. Sachin’s only T20I wicket
Many people have talked about how good a bowler Sachin Tendulkar was. The master blaster has 154 ODI wickets and 46 Test wickets. He was a really good leg-spinner and often saved India from the trouble of not having an extra bowler. Whenever captains didn’t find a good option for bowling part-timers, Sachin always came in and bowled a few crucial overs.
Earlier, we discussed how Agarkar couldn’t finish his spell in this match. So captain Sehwag had to get one and a half overs done by a part-timer. And he looked at Sachin for some help. The legendary batsman didn’t disappoint his captain. Not only did he help Sehwag to get Agarkar’s quota of overs done but he also picked a wicket.
He picked up the crucial wicket of Justin Kemp, who was batting on 22 at the time. He trapped Kemp in front of the stumps. Tendulkar ended with figures for 2.3-0-12-1 and bowled a tight spell. As Tendulkar never played a T20I match again, this remains his only T20I wicket.
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