Being the longest format, Test cricket is considered as 'the purest form of cricket'. Played for 5 gruelling days, it tests each player's temperament and skills at the highest level. Though limited overs cricket has become popular in recent times, Test cricket has never lost its sanctity.
"As a Test cricketer, you expect that at times you're going to be heckled, and you must have a thick skin" - Brett Lee.
On 14th June 2018, we saw Afghanistan making their test debut against India in Bangalore. Afghanistan is the 12th team to gain the 'Test status' granted by ICC and the 4th team to play their inaugural match against India. Though they didn't fare as they would have expected, it was indeed a historic and proud moment for their country and the sport.
As we all witnessed Afghanistan's performance in their inaugural Test, it's time for us to have a look at, how the other 11 Test playing nations fared on their debut in Test cricket.
#10: Ireland against Pakistan, Dublin
After a long gap of 17 years (Bangladesh, 2000), ICC had granted 'Test status' to Ireland and Afghanistan. Ireland hosted their inaugural Test match against Pakistan in May 2018. The only Test began with Ireland captain Porterfield opting to field first on an overcast day.
Off to a scintillating start, Ireland bowlers reduced Pakistan to 159-6 in 52 overs, after which a match-saving partnership of 117 runs flared from the pair of Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf. Declaring at 310/9, the Pakistani bowlers rattled the Ireland line-up for a meagre 130.
Deciding to enforce the follow-on, Pakistan received a stubborn fight back in the form of Kevin O'Brien. Scoring Ireland's first Test century, Kevin helped Ireland to post a lead of 159 runs in 2nd innings.
Chasing 160, Pakistan had a pathetic start to the chase, losing 3 wickets for 14 runs. With the debutant Imam-ul-Haq scoring 74*, Pakistan survived the initial scare to win the match by 5 wickets.
#9: Bangladesh against India, Dhaka
Playing their inaugural Test match at home (Dhaka, 2000), the Bangladeshi captain decided to bat first on a dry pitch to take advantage of the conditions. Top-order batsman Aminul Islam blunted the Indian bowling attack with 145 runs off 380 balls.
With a mammoth total of 400 on the board, Bangladesh was on the verge of taking a healthy first innings lead. However, the 121-run partnership of Ganguly-Joshi pair and Agarkar's cameo helped India to gain a tiny lead 29 runs.
Having the momentum on their side, the Indian pace attack made early inroads to bowl out Bangladesh cheaply for 91. With just 63 runs needed, Dravid guided India to a 9-wicket victory.
Sunil Joshi was adjudged as Man of the Match for his all-round performance throughout the match ( 92 runs, 8 wickets).
#8: Zimbabwe against India, Harare
Batting first on their debut match, the Zimbabwe captain Houghton scored a resilient knock of 121 runs from 322 balls. With twin-fifties from the Flower brothers, Zimbabwe's 1st innings lasted for 215 overs with 456 runs on board.
With nearly two and a half days out of the game, India perceived that forcing a draw was the possible result. To take time out of the game, Sanjay Manjrekar scored the 2nd slowest century in the history of Test cricket which came off 397 balls.
Though Zimbabwe earned a 1st innings lead of 149 runs, having only 2 sessions left in the game, Zimbabwe played out the remaining overs for a draw. The average run rate of 2.02 throughout the match is one of the lowest run rates in the Test cricket history.
#7: Sri Lanka against England, Colombo
After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, Sri Lanka had a shaky start in their inaugural Test match. The 99-run partnership between Madugalle and Ranatunga for 5th wicket helped Sri Lanka to post a decent total of 218.
A collective effort from Sri Lanka bowlers made sure that England had only a tiny first innings lead of 5 runs. Sri Lanka ended Day 3 on a strong note with 156 runs for the loss of 3 wickets in the 2nd innings.
On Day 4, John Emburey, the off-break bowler spun the match in England's favour. Losing 7 wickets for just 19 runs, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 175. With a target of 171, England won the match by 7 wickets as David Gower scored the winning runs.
#6: Pakistan against India, Delhi
After India gained independence in 1947, Pakistan toured India for a 5-match test series (4-day match) in 1952. Winning the toss, India elected to bat first and posted a healthy 1st innings total of 372.
In the 1st innings, Pakistani batsmen struggled to face the slow left-arm bowler Vinoo Mankad. Scalping 8 wickets, Mankad left Pakistan stumbled for a score of 150. As India enforced the follow-on, Mankad's 5-wicket haul in the 2nd innings ensured that India won the match by an innings and 70 runs.
With 13 wickets in the match, Vinoo Mankad was rightfully adjudged as man of the match. Finally, India won the Test series 2-1 with two drawn matches.
#5: India against England, London
The Indian team's journey started in 1932 against England in a 3-day test match. Deciding to bat first, England were bowled out for 259 with India's 1st bowler Mohammad Nissar taking a 5-wicket haul. However, the Indian batting prowess failed to rise for the occasion, conceding a 70 run lead in the 1st innings.
In the 2nd innings, with lead touching 345, the England captain decided to declare at 275-8 selflessly, being just 15 short of a well-deserved century. Unable to manoeuvre the English bowling line-up, the Indian team lost the match by 158 runs.
Surprisingly, the No.9 batsman, Amar Singh scored India's 1st fifty in Test cricket.
#4: New Zealand against England, Christchurch
New Zealand made their test debut (3-day Test) in England's tour of New Zealand (4-match Test series), 1930. After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, New Zealand had a miserable start. Unable to decode the opening pair of English bowlers (Nichols and Allom), New Zealand were knocked down for 112 in the 1st innings.
An amazing effort from the home side's bowling line-up made sure that England had only a lead of 69 runs. Unfortunately, another batting failure for New Zealand in the 2nd innings (131 runs) paved way for England's victory.
With just 63 runs needed, England had a cakewalk, winning the match by 8 wickets. Though New Zealand managed to draw the next 3 matches, England won the series 1-0.
#3: West Indies against England, London
In 1928, with Test status by their side, West Indies toured England for a 3-match test series. Electing to bat first in the 1st match, Tyldesley's knock of 122 helped the home team (England) post a mammoth total of 401.
Though West Indies had a steady opening partnership, they completely lost their way, with 9 wickets falling for just 91 runs (177 all-out).
Having 224-run lead by their side, England enforced the follow-on and went on to win the match by an innings and 58 runs. In the end, England white-washed West Indies 3-0 in their inaugural test series.
#2: South Africa against England, Port Elizabeth
In 1889, South Africa hosted England in their inaugural Test series (2-match series). Confidently deciding to bat first, the South African team were dismissed for a paltry score of 84.
England, in their 1st innings, scored 148 and gained a crucial 64-run lead. Unable to manage the England pace-attack, South Africa were bundled out for 129 in their 2nd innings. With 66 runs to win, the England opener Abel guided them to an 8 wicket win.
At last, England went on to win the series 2-0 and White-washed the South African team in their backyard.
#1: Australia vs. England, Melbourne
In 1877, The first test match in the history of Test cricket was played between 'the founders of the sport' in Melbourne.
Batting first, the Australian opener Bannerman scored a resilient century (165 runs) to help Australia gain a lead of 49 runs at the end of 1st innings (Aus 245, Eng- 196). In the 2nd innings, the timeless game was hard-fought equally between both the teams and finally the Aussies emerged as a winner, claiming the game by 45 runs.
Australia is the only team in the history of test cricket to win their inaugural test match. After 100 years, a memorial Test match was conducted between these two nations in 1977. Co-incidentally, Australia went on to win the match with the same margin of 45 runs.