In the year 2005, the first of the many shortest version of the game took place at the international level. Australia and New Zealand battled against each other at the Eden Park in Auckland on 17th February 2005 in the only T20I in which Australia won by 44 runs. Australian captain Ricky Ponting top-scored with 98 as they amassed 214 in their 20 overs before bowling out their Trans-Tasman rivals for 170.
On the other hand, the Indian cricket team played their inaugural game in the shortest version on 1st December 2006. As part of the bilateral series in South Africa, a one-off T20 international was included between the two sides. The men in blue registered their second victory in the tour post their winless run in the ODI series. Their only other win came in the first of the three Tests. Captained by Virender Sehwag, India scored their winning run off the penultimate ball after a tidy bowling performance that restricted the Proteas to 127 in their allotted 20 overs.
Dinesh Karthik was crowned the man of the match award for his valuable innings of 31 off 28 deliveries under pressure. A year later, India emerged triumphant in the inaugural World T20 which was one of the biggest turning points in Indian cricket. However, only a handful of players from their first T20 game are still part of the national side or are still in the reckoning. The rest have moved on from the sport or had their careers turned upside down.
We take a look at the whereabouts of India’s playing eleven from their first T20 game:
Virender Sehwag had fulfilled the role of the opening batsman for the men in blue for a long time. Along with Sachin Tendulkar, the swashbuckling right-hander used to wreak havoc on the bowling attacks around the globe. The pair has accumulated 3919 runs in 93 ODI innings at an average of 42.13 while opening the batting.
In India’s first T20 game, the 41-year old got his team off to a whirlwind start in pursuit of 128 before being run out of 34 off 29 balls. Sehwag also participated in the Indian Premier League, having played for Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) and Kings XI Punjab.
He announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in October 2015. During the same year, Sehwag was part of Sachin’s Blasters in Cricket All-Stars three-game T20 series. Off the field, the Delhi batsman is known for being outspoken and candid in Twitter that has landed him in controversies more often than not. In recent times, Sehwag also featured in commercials where he was seen mocking the touring party.
Only a few people may know that the most capped player in Tests and ODIs also played one T20 game for India. Sachin Tendulkar opened the innings with his long-time partner Virender Sehwag but scored only ten runs that included two boundaries before being cleaned up by Charl Langeveldt.
Tendulkar was one of the prolific run-scorers, notably manhandling the great Australian bowling unit of the late 90s and the early 2000s. The Mumbai batsman also had a fulfilling IPL career. He played his last season in the year 2013 and also retired from international cricket in the same year. At the time of his retirement from the T20 extravaganza, he was the fifth-highest run-getter in IPL history.
Post his retirement, Tendulkar was announced as the ambassador for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. In the year 2015, Sachin captained Sachin’s Blasters against Warne’s Warriors in a losing effort in Cricket-All Stars three-match T20 series. Most recently, the 46-year old is also in contention to return to BCCI‘s Cricket Advisory Committee.
Dinesh Mongia made his debut under the reign of Sourav Ganguly. While Mongia wasn’t the most star-studded player in the squad, he made his place in the playing eleven because of the ability to play as a floater batsman. He did play some useful knocks; however, he was inconsistent when India travelled overseas.
In the first T20 international for the men in blue, the left-handed batsman, to a degree of surprise, was the top-scorer, making 38 off 45 balls while batting at number three. Despite his handy knock, the 42-year old missed out on playing for the national side in the ICC T20 World Cup in 2007.
He last played an international game in the form of a 50-over match against Bangladesh in 2007 in Dhaka. Post that, the all-rounder went on to play for Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League, but he was suspended, stating on undisclosed “disciplinary grounds”. He last featured in a competitive game in 2008. The 42-year old announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in September 2019.
The name needs no introduction. MS Dhoni established a dynasty that went on to taste unprecedented success in limited-overs cricket. Coming in to bat at number four in this game, the gloveman couldn’t trouble the scorers and went for a duck.
After a year, Dhoni found himself leading the Indian team that became champions of the first T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007. At the age of 38, the veteran still remains India’s most reliable wicketkeeper and one of the best finishers of the game.
He last featured for India in the semi-final of the 50-over World Cup held in July. He came within touching distance of taking India to the final; however, he got run out shortly after which the two-time champions were eliminated from the tournament. He later went on to serve the army for a brief period.
Most recently, the former captain was spotted at a training session at the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi. Nevertheless, there is no clarity on his playing future yet.
Dinesh Karthik was the frontrunner to become the regular gloveman for the national side in 2004. Nevertheless, the selectors’ preference of MS Dhoni and in turn Dhoni justifying the choice behind the stumps as well as with the bat, didn’t bode well for Karthik. Over the next few years, the 34-year old did make periodic international appearances; however, the indifferent form didn’t let him solidify his spot in the Indian team.
In the first T20 international, the Tamil Nadu batsman came in at a crunch time and crafted an unbeaten knock of 31 off 28 balls to guide India past the finish line in a nervy chase. Karthik received the man of the match award for his courageous knock. Karthik is famously known for leading India to a victory in the Nidahas Trophy 2018 final by clobbering a six over extra cover when five runs were required.
He last competed in the knockout game between India and New Zealand in the World Cup 2019 which the former lost. The veteran scored a miserable six off 25 balls around a floundering batting performance by India that time. Recently, he expressed his wish to be part of India’s squad that will travel next year to Australia for the T20 World Cup.
The left-handed batsman from Uttar Pradesh was a mainstay in India’s limited-overs plans for long. Suresh Raina, without any doubt, with his wide range of shots along with his ability to beautifully pick the gaps, built him as a limited-overs stalwart. Not only this, but Raina also radiates energetic vibes through his athleticism on the field.
However, as days went by, most teams exploited his weakness with the short ball. As a result, the 33-year old failed in overseas conditions on more occasions than one. Against South Africa, in India’s opening T20 international, Raina remained unbeaten on three off four deliveries.
The stylish southpaw last played for India in the three-match ODI series against England in 2018. He managed to carve out an innings of 46 at Lord’s; however, his series aggregate stood at 47 runs from three games. While the veteran remains active in social media, it is unlikely to see him donning the national colours again.
A key member of the winning squad of the ICC World T20 in the year 2007, Irfan Pathan started out as one of the deadliest swing bowlers that India had produced. Hailing from Baroda, the left-arm seamer resonated Wasim Akram’s ability at his peak, putting every batsman in a spot of bother.
He received the man of the match award for his sensational spell of 4-0-16-3 in the T20 World Cup final against Pakistan. He finished the tournament with ten wickets in seven games at an impressive average of 14.90. Against the Proteas, in India’s first T20 international, he couldn’t make an impact in his four overs as he conceded 30 runs without a wicket.
In his later career, Irfan played a significant role in scripting India’s tri-series win over Australia down under in 2008. Nevertheless, his career was consistently marred by injuries and form concerns. He last played for India in the 2012 ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka before another injury set him back never to make a comeback in the national side.
Despite him announcing that his career is not over, it looks unlikely for him to stage an international comeback presently. The 35-year old currently works as a cricket analyst.
India’s most successful off-spin bowler, Harbhajan Singh assumed the leadership role of India’s spin-bowling department after Anil Kumble’s retirement. The turbanator played a decisive role in the men in blue’s triumphant campaign of their 20-over World Cup in 2007 and the fifty-over World Cup in 2011.
Harbhajan picked up the wicket of Johan Van Der Wath in India’s victory over South Africa in their first T20 game. The Indian selectors moved on from Harbhajan after his poor show in the tour of England in 2011 where he could manage only two wickets from two Tests. India also preferred the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the white-ball games.
The veteran last played for India in the Asia Cup in 2016 against UAE in a T20 game. He finished with figures of 4-1-11-1. At present, Harbhajan features in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings and is present in the panel of experts ahead of any home game for India. He hasn’t hung up his boots from international cricket; however, with India preferring young spin bowlers, it is almost impossible for Bhajji to make a return.
In all honesty, Zaheer Khan had evolved into one of the finest bowlers that India ever produced. Though his start wasn’t as promising as he would have liked, he worked hard on his fitness and signed a deal with Worcestershire in 2006 to take his career back on track.
He bowled a miserly spell in Johannesburg in the T20 game against South Africa, claiming the wickets of Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman. The four overs from him yielded a couple of wickets, conceding 15 runs. The left-arm speedster announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket in October 2015. His final match for India was against New Zealand in a Test in Wellington in 2014 which he ended by taking a fifer in the second innings.
While the veteran fast bowler still possessed the tricks in the bag, age had caught up to him, reducing his speed. Zaheer played his last season of the IPL in the year 2017. Most recently, he featured for the Delhi Bulls in the T10 league.
The third-highest wicket-taker for India in ODIs and the second fastest to bag 50 ODI wickets, Ajit Agarkar became a very handy new-ball bowler for the national team. Although he possessed all the skills in his arsenal to become one of the best bowlers in both ODI and Test cricket, he could never make it big in red-ball cricket.
The Mumbai bowler was the first change bowler in India’s inaugural T20 game, having picked up two wickets in less than three overs while also bagging a maiden. He was included in the squad for the World T20 in 2007; however, he played only three matches before getting dropped.
The 41-year old’s last game for India was the group game against New Zealand in the same competition. He also faced an axe from the ODI squad following a series defeat in England in 2007. The pacer still continued to play first-class cricket for Mumbai, captaining them to their 40th title in Ranji Trophy in the 2012-13 season. Agarkar announced his retirement before the following season in 2013 and started his career as a cricket analyst.
If not the most productive bowler during his era, Sreesanth brought a lot of promise along with him. Sreesanth’s name is famously associated with taking the most important catch of his career that sealed India as the champions of the first-ever T20 World Cup. However, beyond that, the Kerala speedster remained in and out of the game, mainly because of disciplinary reasons.
He suffered his biggest setback when he got arrested for indulging himself in the spot-fixing scandal of the Indian Premier League back in the year 2013. Along with Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, the trio spent a month behind bars. Following a comprehensive investigation by BCCI‘s anti-corruption unit that year, he was banned for life.
He claimed the wicket of Albie Morkel in his country’s first T20 international and returned with figures of 4-0-33-1. In August 2019, it was announced that his ban had been reduced to seven years, making him eligible to play for India in September 2020.
The right-arm pacer last played for his nation against England in a Test match at the Oval in 2011. The 36-year old has participated in various reality shows, including Fear Factor in the current year. At 36, he is optimistic of wearing the Indian jersey again.
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