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West Indies v India 2023

From Gavaskar to Kohli: Indians who made their Test debuts in West Indies

India tour of West Indies
by Naman Agarwal 5 minute read

India have named a new-look squad for their Test series against West Indies. One, if not more, players may make their Test debuts on the tour. On that note, here is a list of Indians who made their Test debuts in the Caribbean, and how their Test careers panned out.

Thirteen Indians have made their Test debuts in the West Indies, ranging from some of the all-time greats of the game to some who promised a lot but could not make it big.

The upcoming India tour of West Indies will see at least one addition to this list, after India have opted to drop Cheteshwar Pujara and pick Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad in the squad, along with fast bowler Mukesh Kumar and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan. All four are uncapped, and at least one is likely to feature in the XI in the two Test matches.


Here’s a look at the 13 names and how their Test careers played out. The years and numbers refer to their entire Test careers.

Chandrasekhar Gadkari – 1953-1955

6 matches, 129 runs @ 21.50, 1 50, 0 100s, HS: 50*

A stalwart of the 1950s Services side, Lt Col Gadkari was an attacking right-hand batter known for exceptional fielding. He debuted in Port of Spain on the 1953 tour, and scored a fifty in the Georgetown Test. His time in the Indian army restricted him to six Test matches, but he had a decent first-class career, scoring more than three-thousand runs at over 40.

Jayasinghrao ‘Mama’ Ghorpade – 1953-1959

8 matches, 229 runs @ 15.26, 0 50s, 0 100s, HS: 41

A distant relative of the royal family of Baroda, Ghorpade debuted in 1953 as well. An all-rounder who batted right-handed and bowled leg spin, Ghorpade played eight matches between 1953 and 1959. In his debut series, he made two crucial contributions with the bat – 35 and 24 in the third and fifth Tests, both from No.9. While he took more than 100 wickets in first-class games, his wickets tally in Test matches finished at zero.

Kenia Jayantilal – 1971-1971

1 match, 5 runs @ 5, 0 50s, 0 100s, HS: 5

Jayantilal’s debut Test match was also his last. Part of the 1971 squad as backup opener for Sunil Gavaskar for the 1971 tour, he played in the first Test match, at Kingston, after Gavaskar was ruled out. A brilliant catch by Garry Sobers restricted Jayantilal to five runs in India’s only innings of the match, and once Gavaskar arrived, his career was over.

Pochiah Krishnamurthy – 1971-1971

5 matches, 33 runs @ 5.50, 0 50s, 0 100s, HS: 20

A highly regarded wicketkeeper in Indian domestic circuit, Krishnamurthy played all five Test matches on the 1971 tour but never afterwards, though he toured with the team several times as the backup wicketkeeper, sometimes for Farokh Engineer and sometimes for Syed Kirmani. In his debut series, he kept wicket soundly but could not leave a mark with the bat.

Sunil Gavaskar – 1971-1987

125 matches, 10122 runs @ 51.12, 45 50s, 34 100s, HS: 236*

The first batter to score more than 10,000 runs or 34 hundreds in Test cricket, Gavaskar started with 774 runs on the 1971 tour – still a world record for a debutant – despite missing out on the first Test. Gavaskar debuted in the second Test of the series, and played a pivotal role in India’s first Test match – and series – anywhere. He retired sixteen years later, as one of the greatest openers in the history of Test cricket.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan – 1983-1986

9 matches, 26 wickets @ 44.03, 3 five-fors, BBI: 6-64

When he debuted in Antigua on the 1982/83 tour, 17-year-old Sivaramakrishnan was, at that point, India’s youngest Test debutant. West Indies had already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series as India decided to hand the young, slim leg-spinner a Test debut. After going wicketless on debut, Sivaramakrishnan’s stocks rose when he picked 12 wickets against England in Mumbai when he was not even 19. However, his career went downhill as quickly as it had gone up. He played his last Test match at 21, in 1986.

M Venkataramana – 1989-1989

1 match, 1 wicket @ 58, 0 five-fors, BBI: 1-10

Off-spinner Venkatramana played his only Test in Kingston on the 1988/89 tour, and Desmond Haynes remained his only Test wicket. He had a stellar domestic record, picking 247 wickets from 75 games. His consistent domestic performances kept him around the Indian Test team for a while, but he never quite managed to break into the XI after his debut Test.

Abey Kuruvilla – 1997-1997

10 matches, 25 wickets @ 35.68, 1 five-for, BBI: 5-68

One of the tallest fast bowlers to play for India, Kuruvilla debut in the first Test of the 1997 tour, in Kingston. He played all five games and picked 13 wickets at 36.92 on the tour. Some believed that his Test debut came several years too late. Kuruvilla’s entire international career was in 1997. He later served as a selector for the Indian team.

Ajay Ratra – 2002-2002

6 matches, 163 runs @ 18.11, 0 50s, 1 100, HS: 115*

Ratra made his Test debut as a 20-year-old wicketkeeper on the 2002 tour. In the fourth Test match, he made 115 not out, becoming the youngest wicketkeeper to score a Test hundred. However, apart from that innings, he did not have much to show in Test cricket, and was soon replaced by another young wicketkeeper, Parthiv Patel.

VRV Singh – 2006-2007

5 matches, 8 wickets @ 53.37, 0 five-fors, BBI: 3-48

A genuinely quick fast bowler who debuted in the first Test match of the 2006 tour, VRV did not have a great start, picking just two wickets in the series at an average of 79. He played three more games but was soon discarded.

Virat Kohli – 2011-present

109 matches, 8479 runs @ 48.72, 28 50s, 28 100s, HS: 254*

India’s most successful and the flagbearer of Indian cricket in the present day, Kohli made his Test debut on the 2011 tour. He scored four runs in his first innings, in Kingston, and had a poor series overall, scoring just 76 runs from five innings at 15.20. However, he turned things around soon and took over the mantle of India’s across-format premier batter from Sachin Tendulkar when the latter retired. The only active player on this list, he will be making his fourth Test tour of the Caribbean this month.

Praveen Kumar – 2011-2011

6 matches, 27 wickets @ 25.81, 1 five-for, BBI: 5-106

A genuine swing bowler who moved the ball both ways at will, Praveen debuted alongside Kohli in Kingston. He had a brilliant debut series, picking 12 wickets from three games at an average of 21.16. Despite excellent returns, he played only three more Test matches: disciplinary issues off the field and inconsistent performances on it meant that he could not have a long career for India.

Abhinav Mukund – 2011-2017

7 matches, 320 runs @ 22.85, 2 50s, 0 100s, HS: 81

The third player to make his Test debut alongside Kohli and Praveen in the Kingston Test of 2011 was left-handed opening batter, Mukund. He scored 147 from six innings at an average of 24.50 in his debut series, but remained around the Test side as a backup opener since. He played four more Tests, the last of which came in 2017 in Sri Lanka, but could not string together consistent scores.

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