India’s 5 Greatest Cricketers of All Time

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India's cricketers are currently involved in an absorbing five-Test series in England but who ranks as the five best Indian players of all time?

India legend Sachin Tendulkar

5) Kapil Dev

A superb all-rounder, Dev captained India to their 1983 World Cup triumph and sits second on the list of India’s record Test wicket-takers with 434 to his name. He made his Test debut in 1978 and went on to play 131 Tests, scoring a total of 5,248 runs, and he also played in 225 One-Day Internationals for his country.

When he retired in 1994, he held the world record for the number of wickets taken in Test cricket, before his haul was beaten by Courtney Walsh in 2000. He remains the only player in history to have taken more than 400 wickets as well as scoring more than 5,000 runs in Tests and Wisden named him the Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002.

4) Sunil Gavaskar

Gavaskar’s tally of 10,122 runs puts him third on India’s all-time runscorer list and he was one of the dominant players in the 1970s and 80s.

Fondly remembered as the first Test batsman to reach 10,000 runs when he achieved the feat playing against Pakistan shortly before retiring in March 1987, Gavaskar also held the record of 34 Indian Test centuries for almost two decades before it was broken by Sachin Tendulkar in 2005. He was the first person to score centuries in both innings of a Test match three times and amassed a total of 3,092 ODI runs from 108 games.

In 1996, The Border-Gavaskar Trophy was created in his co-honour and it was announced any bilateral Test series between India and Australia would be competed for the trophy, also named after the famous Australian batsman Allan Border.

3) Anil Kumble

India’s record Test wicket-taker, Kumble is considered one of the best leg-spin bowlers ever and his tally of 619 wickets in Test cricket sees him sit fourth on the list of highest wicket-takers of all time, behind only fellow bowling legends Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and James Anderson.

Kumble, who made his India debut in 1990 and retired in 2008, was a veteran of 132 Tests and 271 ODI’s. Like the rest of the players on this list, Kumble is the proud holder of several records, including the most five-wickets in an innings for his country with 35 – a figure that puts him fourth on that particular all-time list. He also holds the record for the most wickets in a calendar year by an Indian in ODIs with 61 in 1996 (which is also the third-highest total by a bowler of any nationality).

Since retiring he’s gone into coaching and after previous roles with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, he’s currently the head coach of Kings XI Punjab, while in 2015 became the fourth Indian cricketer to be inducted into ICC Hall of Fame.

2) Rahul Dravid

Nicknamed ‘The Wall’, Dravid is fourth in the all-time Test runscorer table with 13,288 runs from 264 matches for India and is only the second Indian cricketer, after Tendulkar, to score 10,000 runs both in Tests and in ODIs.

In 2004, after completing another century, this time against Bangladesh in Chittagong, he earned the accolade of being the first player to score a century in all the ten Test-playing countries.

Underlining just how much Dravid, who retired in 2012 after a stunning 16-year career, was respected around the globe, he became the first non-Australian cricketer to deliver the Bradman Oration in Canberra in December 2011.

1) Sachin Tendulkar

A legend of the game and arguably the greatest batsman ever, Tendulkar made his Test debut as a 16-year-old and is the highest run scorer of all time in international cricket with 15,921 runs. He’s also the only player to have scored 100 international centuries, the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International and the only player to register more than 30,000 runs overall in international cricket.

Following the most glittering of careers, the ‘Little Master’ retired at the age of 40 in 2013 and a year later became the first-ever sportsperson to receive the Bharat Ratna Award, India’s highest civilian honour. Among a plethora of other achievements and awards, he was made an Honorary group captain by the Indian Air Force in 2010 and named ESPNCricinfo Cricketer of the Generation in 2014.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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