Come Thursday, India will become only the fifth team to play 500 Test matches after England (976), Australia (791) and West Indies (517).
In the backdrop of horrific militant attack at Uri, which left 17 Indian jawans dead, the match at Kanpur will once again allow a national team to play for the country, and share the grief with bereaved families, even as cricketing world witnesses two young captains leading their respective teams in transition — one slowly but surely becoming a world champion, and another gently settling for a outfit.
Virat Kohli & Co will host Kane Williamson's New Zealand outfit, at Green Park stadium. The Indian captain cut a cake, upon arrival at the north Indian industrial city, to mark the 500th Test. The Indian cricket board, the BCCI, also made elaborate arrangements, including the invitation of former captains.
Currently, India are ranked second, behind arch-rivals Pakistan. A win at Kanpur and series victory against the visiting Kiwis will give Kohli's team advantage over their neighbors, even as Australia and England join the fight for Test supremacy.
And with Kanpur being Kanpur, and India being India, there ought to be enough turn for Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra – India's three specialists spinners – to exploit the home advantage.
India played their first Test match against England during the tour of 1932. Unexpectedly, CK Nayudu's India lost the match at Lord's, the home of cricket. But today, India has truly became the global hub of the sport with the spawning of Twenty20 cricket, and also thanks to the sheer number of supporters and the never ending money making avenues thus presented by its larger than life image.
In these 84 years, India have managed to create magic and register epic victories. But most importantly, it allowed a country like India which propagates diverse belief and value systems to celebrate every win and mourn every defeat together, irrespective of religion and caste, or whatever denomination one cares to use to diversify.
Then arrived the limited overs cricket, through which India found global recognition. Yes, there were Olympics hockey teams, but the monochrome celebration that India captured in 1983 at Lord's gave the country a much-needed impetus, and a self belief to a generation, teeming with young and confident population.
But the five-day format remains the basis which sets the standard, and for any cricketer, the ultimate 'test' to test to his skills.
On this note, let's have a look at the numbers which matter for India:
TOP RUN GETTERS
Sachin Tendulkar — 15921 runs in 329 innings
He's the gold standard of batting, and the Master Blaster scored in heaps. His grand total of 15921 runs may never be eclipsed. Besides, his record 51 Test centuries will be there for a long time.
Rahul Dravid — 13265 runs in 284 innings
The Wall was never known for records. His job was to bat quietly and fade back. But quietly, he managed to create an aura of invincibility. He is second only to Tendulkar, when it comes to career runs scored and average, too.
Sunil Gavaskar — 10122 runs in 214 innings
The original Indian Little Master was the first ever player to breach the 10000-run barrier, a feat only 12 players have managed to achieve.
TOP WICKET TAKERS
Anil Kumble — 619 wickets in 236 innings
Regarded as one of the bravest cricketers, Kumble is also holder of record for most Test wickets for an Indian bowler. He's the epitome of Indian bowling attack, and it's reflected in the gap between his total of wickets, and that of second place bowler.
Kapil Dev — 434 wickets in 227 innings
The celebrated all-rounder held the record for most Test wickets for a long time, until West Indian great Courtney Walsh broke it in 2000. Kapil's 434 wickets, besides 5248 runs helped India gain new ground in the sport.
Harbhajan Singh — 417 wickets in 190 innings
A proven match-winner and a born fighter, Harbhajan could have achieved much more than being India's third highest Test wicket taker. His tally of 417 wickets fails to reflect the true genius he was with the ball.
The margin of victory or loss not always defines the greatness of it, or the lack of it. But, numbers always justify the claim to it, either of it. Here are some numbers:
Defeated Bangladesh by innings and 239 runs at Dhaka, 25 May 2007
A win was needed to salvage India's pride, after the first match was drawn. India declared after scoring 610/3 with Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik and Tendulkar all hitting tons. Then, Indian bowlers. led by Zaheer Kkan and Kumble, bowled out Bangladesh twice – 118 and 253 – to register their biggest win.
Defeated Australia by innings and 219 runs at Kolkata, 18 Mar 1998
The second match of the series, with two cricket giants – Tendulkar and Shane Warne – at their peak, was probably India's most complete performance to date.
After dismissing Australia for 233 runs, with Javagal Srinath, Ganguly and Kumble taking three wickets each, India scored 633 — VVS Laxman (93), Navjot Sidhu (97), Dravid (86), Tendulkar (79). Mohammad Azharuddin (163) and Ganguly (65).
Then, Kumble led the assault in the fourth innings with a five-wicket haul, assisted by Srinath's three. That's how India got a rare back-to-back win against Australia.
Defeated New Zealand by innings and 198 runs at Nagpur, 20 Nov 2010
After two high-scoring drawn matches, India needed to win the series decider at Nagpur. And despite the first day's play limited by bad light, India won big, thanks to the brilliance of Dravid.
He scored 191 runs in the second innings, and with a skipper MS Dhoni's 98, posted 193-run stand for the sixth wicket to decide the match in India's favour. Ishant Sharma helped the cause with a seven-wicket haul.
Defeated South Africa by 337 runs at Delhi, 3 Dec 2015
After series win in Sri Lanka, India played at home and played like winners. India lost both the limited overs series, preceding to Test, but spinners were there to rescue in five-day format.
And the fourth match was the highlight of the series. India won the first match at Mohali by 108 runs, the second match at Bangalore was drawn, then another win at Nagpur.
But at Delhi, Jadeja and Ashwin toyed with the Proteas, both taking seven-wickets hauls. India scored 334 runs, then bowled out South Africa for 121, then batted again to add another 267 runs.
In reply, despite marathon innings from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, South Africa were bowled out for 143.
Defeated Australia by 320 runs at Mohali, 17 Oct 2008
A momentous win for India, specially for Tendulkar. The batting maestro became the first batsman to score 12000 Test runs in the match.
India scored 469 runs in the first essay, then bowled out the Aussies for 268. India batted again to score 314.
Mishra, who had a five-wicket haul earlier, returned to remove Aussie mainstay Michael Clarke and India won by 320 runs.
Defeated South Africa by 280 runs at Kanpur, 8 Dec 1996
Despite starting the match with a modest total of 237 runs in the first innings, India managed to beat South Africa by 280 runs to claim the series 2-1.
The Proteas had won the second Test at Eden Gardens by a huge 329 runs, and at series at stake, Azharuddin led from the front, scoring 163 runs to set a 460-run target.
726/9d against Sri Lanka at Mumbai, 2 Dec 2009
India-Sri Lanka matches have always been high scoring affairs, and the third Test of 2009 series was no different.
Virender Sehwag destroyed Lankan attack with a 254-ball 293-run knock to help India post 726 runs at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium. His innings was supported by skipper Dhoni's 100 and Murali Vijay's 87.
Lanka, who had scored 393 in the first innings, could only managed 309 in the second outing.
707 against Sri Lanka at Colombo, 26 Jul 2010
Yet another high scoring match, this time in Colombo's Sinhalese Sports Ground. Sri Lanka scored a mammoth 642 runs in the first innings with legendary Kumar Sangakkara scoring 219 runs, and Mahela Jayawardene contributing with 174.
India responded with Tendulkar himself leading the charge with a classy 203, and interestingly enough, Suresh Raina – India's T20 specialist – hit his only Test century in this match. And Sehwag missed a ton by just one run.
Not prize for guessing, the match ended in a tame draw.
705/7d against Australia at Sydney, 2 Jan 2004
Regarded as one of the greatest batting displays by a visiting team in Australia, Tendulkar led with a fine 241-run knock to help India post 705 at Sydney Cricket Ground.
His knock was ably supported by VVS Laxman's 178, Sehwag's typical 72, and gutsy rear-guard action from diminutive Parthiv Patel's 62.
Australia responded well, with a first innings total of 474, and India batted out the remaining part of the match with Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar not out on 91 and 60 respectively.
A drawn match, which helped India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL SCORES
Virender Sehwag 319 against South Africa at Chennai, 2008
This is one of the those innings which defined Sehwag — probably the most destructive and carefree batsmen of all time.
Responding to South Africa's first innings total of 540 runs, Sehwag made a mockery of it, by hitting a 304-ball 319-run knock at Chennai's historic Chepauk. He reached the 300-run mark in just 278 balls, which still is the fastest triple hundred.
Sehwag, in a murderous mood, toyed with the bowling attack which had the likes of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Jaques Kallis, etc. This knock still remains India's highest individual score in Test cricket.
309 against Pakistan at Multan, 2004
Sehwag became the Sultan of Multan after this knock. He batted with resilience, and took 364 balls to reach his first triple-hundred. The India opener dominated the first Test between the arch-rivals with his stroke-play, which included 39 fours and six sixes. And his knock was supported by Tendulkar, who remained unbeaten on 194, as India declared at 675.
The match, however, was overshadowed by skipper Dravid's untimely or sporting declaration which left Tendulkar stranded at 194*.
293 against Sri Lanka at Mumbai, 2 Dec 2009
It's indeed not a surprise to see India's top three knocks belonging to Sehwag. But he missed the opportunity to become the only batsman to score three triple tons, when he got out on 293 against Sri Lanka, falling to Muttiah Muralitharan, in 2009 at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai. Just like his other big scores, Sehwag wasted no time, facing only 254 balls during his knock.
His knocked help India to their highest ever total in a Test match, 726/9d.
BEST BOWLING FIGURES
Narendra Hirwani 16 wickets against West Indies at Chennai, 11 Jan 1988
India's best bowling figures in a match still belongs to Narendra Hirwani, who made a dream debut against South Africa at Chepauk in 1998.
He first took eight wickets, then another eight for match figures of 16 for 136 in a spell of 33.5 overs. India won the match by 255 runs, and the Test debutant made an instant impact before vanishing. He did take another 50 more Test wickets in 16 matches.
Harbhajan Singh 15 wickets against Australia at Chennai, 18 Mar 2001
Then, Chennai used to a spinner's heaven. And there, Harbhajan Singh registered second best bowling figures for Indian bowler, against Australia in 2001.
Aussie opener Matthew Hayden faced 320 balls score 203 in the first innings, but his fellow batsmen continued to perish around him, to Harbhajan.
The Indian offie took seven for 133 in 38.2 overs, then took eight for 84 in a spell of 41.5 overs for a match total of 15, in a match which saw spin legend Warne settled with two wickets.
India won the match by two wickets.
Jasubhai Patel 14 wickets against Australia at Kanpur, 19 Dec 1959
If it's not for Chandu Borde, Jasubhai Patel could have easily become the first Indian to take all ten wickets in an innings. Patel, not so famous Indian offie, took nine wickets against the visiting Australian team in the second Test at Kanpur in 1959.
He was denied a perfect-10 by Borde. Patel returned to take five more wickets in the fourth innings to give India a famous win over the Aussies. And his 14 wicket haul was India's best bowling for a very very long time.
Anil Kumble 14 wickets against Pakistan at Delhi, 4 Feb 1999
It's just not possible to skip Kumble's 10-wicket haul against Pakistan, when it comes to India's best bowling efforts. Kumble, in 1999, matched Jim Laker's perfect ten.
Jumbo already took four wickets in Pakistan's first innings, for a match figures of 14. India won the Feroz Shah Kotla match by 212 runs.