Born on New Year’s Day 1954 in Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India’s first Test captain, Shantha Rangaswamy.
When Shantha led her team on to the field at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore on 31st October 1976, history was made when India became only the sixth nation to play women’s Tests. Shantha opened the bowling and also top scored for India with 74 runs in the first innings.
This was also the first series in the history of cricket where both teams wore pants, rather than culottes or skirts.
In the second Test match of the series she again top scored (57) in the first innings and took 2-8 with her bowling. In the third Test, 78 runs in the first innings (out of 142) and a “failure” in the second innings with 46 runs.
In the fourth Test Shantha Rangaswamy led India to its first Test victory, beating the West Indies by five wickets.
In New Zealand for a one-off Test in 1977 at Dunedin, Shantha created another milestone: the first Test century by an Indian woman cricketer. Her 108 was out of a total 177 and was scored in 270 minutes. It continued the running theme: India was always strong while ever her captain was at the crease.
In sixteen Test matches, twelve as captain, Shantha scored 750 runs at 32.60 with the one century and six fifties. With the ball, 21 wickets at 31.61 with a best of 4-42 against England at Collingham in 1986.
Test cricket was more Shantha’s style than ODIs but she played nineteen matches, sixteen as captain, and led the team to the World Cup in New Zealand in 1981/2. Overall, 287 runs with a top score of 50 and 12 wickets at 29.41, with a best of 3-25.
Off the field, in 1976 Shantha Rangaswamy became the first woman cricketer to receive the Arjuna Award. In 2017 she became first female cricketer to be given the BCCI Lifetime Achievement Award.