India won the World Cup 51 years after their first Test match
Cricket has no bigger audience than the Asian subcontinent, a region which follows the sport with more passion than anywhere else in the world.
With a population in excess of one billion, the sport has become big business but in the first of a two-part chapter on cricket in south Asia, we concentrate on the early beginnings up until the end of the 1970s.
The beaches of western India in the early 18th century were often the scene for impromptu games of cricket played between British sailors.
The same region of the country gave birth to the earliest organised fixtures in the 1800s. Initially, Indians were mere spectators to contests played between army soldiers and officers.
Lord Harris, the governor of Bombay, was the first to suggest introducing the Parsees into cricket matches before a Hindu selection was added.
By the time the Muslims were on board, a quadrangular contest was staged regularly.
But the game in India got its first major boost in June 1932 when the country was invited to tour England, becoming the sixth Test-playing nation.
STORY OF CRICKET
Former Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri narrates on BBC World Service
The programme is the fifth of a six-part series detailing the history of the game
The final part will also feature cricket on the Asian subcontinent, from the 1980s to the present day
The Test match at Lord's featured a crowd of 24,000 and gave Indians a sense of nationhood some 15 years before independence.
But it would take 25 matches and 20 years on the learning curve before India's maiden Test victory, when they triumphed over their old colonial rulers by an innings in Madras.
"We were outplayed convincingly," recalls Donald Carr, who was making his debut in the match. "We had learned the game from the British and it was about time to beat them," says India's Chetan Chauhan.
That was the same year that Pakistan and India played each other for the first time following the violence caused by partition in 1947.
But only eight years into what was developing as a keen, hotly-contested rivalry, cricketing relations were suspended between the two nations, from 1960-1978.
Part 3: 5/2/04 - 7/2/04
All times GMT
Aus and NZ : Thurs 2106, Fri 0306, 0706, 1606
East Asia: Fri 0206, 0706, 1306, 1906
South Asia: Thurs 2206, Fri 0506, 0906, 1406
East Africa: Fri 0706, 1406, Sat 0006
West Africa: Fri 0906, 1646, Sat 0006
Middle East: Fri 0806, 1306, 1706, Sat 0106
Europe: Fri 0906, 1306, 1906, Sat 0106
Americas: Fri 1406, 2006, Sat 0106, 0606
It would not be the only period of fast for those hungry to see India and Pakistan do battle.
In 1979 Asif Iqbal recalls captaining Pakistan in a home series against India. "It was amazing," he says.
"There was no way we could have any privacy. Cricket was a far superior way of keeping the country together than all the politics."
Indian rival Sanjay Manjrekar remembers how individual friendships between Indian and Pakistani players blossomed, but on the pitch it was a different story.
Pakistan's early years in Test cricket had produced more success than India's.
They were the only side to win a Test on their first tour of England when they bowled out a team containing greats like Hutton, Compton, Graveney and May for low scores in both innings at the Oval in 1954.
But they went on to record just two Test wins in the following decade, at a time when their neighbours India were making the world stand up and take notice.
Experienced pros like Mankad, Umrigar and Contractor joined forces with the younger talents of Wadekar, Prasanna, Bedi and Chandrasekhar.
Indian cricket became less predictable to watch and having often mentally surrendered to opposition teams in the 1950s they were suddenly confident, particularly at home, where they could beat anyone.
There is an unrivalled passion for the game in India
After a productive period in the 1960s, India continued to develop in the 1970s with the legendary run-getter Sunil Gavaskar leading the line.
Pakistan too, after their lean spell, were sowing the seeds for a brighter future.
Captain Imran Khan says: "In 1971 when I joined the team we were the poor relation in international cricket.
"My ambition was to see Pakistan on top of world cricket so I selected people from the under-19 team and persevered with them."
Ultimately, Imran's vision took Pakistan to the very top - World Cup glory in 1992, some nine years after India had also won cricket's top prize.
But both those two events belong to the final chapter in the Story of Cricket.