Cricket was a game introduced by the British to India. However, over the course of time, it became the most popular sport in the country. Today, over a billion hearts beat to the rhythm of the success and failure of the Indian cricket team. Perhaps nothing else can unite Indians in the way cricket can. A victory in a critical cricket match sets off fireworks all over India while a critical defeat sends the entire nation into a state of mourning. Cricketers in India enjoy a level of popularity and cultural relevance that can only be matched by politicians and movie stars. India is the biggest market for cricket in the world and the Indian cricket team is one of the most successful cricket teams in history. However, that wasn’t always the case as the rise of the Indian cricket team has been a gradual process. It has been driven by the hard work of some of the best Indian cricketers of all time. They have used their extraordinary skills and charisma to put Indian cricket on the world map. It’s through their blood, sweat and tears that Indian cricket became the force that it is today. In this post, we will take a look at the best Indian cricketers of all time. While this is by no means an objective list, you will most probably agree with most of the entrants in this list. Remember, we haven’t just compared players head to head or statistically. A lot of modern day cricketers will probably have better statistics and on field achievements than legends like Lala Amarnath and Vijay Hazare but their contribution at that time can’t be overstated. This isn’t a list called “statistically best Indian cricketers”, we have also kept their impact in mind. With all that cleared up, let’s get started.
Here Are The Best Indian Cricketers of All Time
Lala Amarnath was called India’s first all-rounder. Lala Amarnath, who scored the first century for India in international cricket, was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1991.
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi has to be included in this list. At the age of 21, he became the captain of the Indian cricket team. He captained the Indian cricket team for years. It is said about his cricket career that once his eye was damaged because of an accident and when the doctor said that he would never be able to play cricket again, then at that time he made a tremendous return to the field.
Vijay Merchant’s cricket career was not very long, but in his short career, he showed great batting for the Indian cricket team. He scored runs for Team India at an average of 71.65. He went on two tours of England and scored 800 runs to his name. This was one of the finest batting performances by any Indian batsman in England’s cold, damp and windy conditions.
Such was this amazing Indian cricketer’s contribution that one of India’s most prestigious trophies, the Vijay Hazare Trophy (also known as the Ranji One Day Trophy) is named after him. In 1960, he was also honored with Padma Shri by the Government of India. The Indian cricket team got its first victory in Test cricket under his captaincy.
Vinoo Mankad was one such player of Indian cricket who has batted at every number from number 1 to number 11. In 1956, he made a partnership of 413 runs with Pankaj Rai. In 1973, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan. He also came up with the ingenious idea of getting the non striker out by clipping the bails off the non striker’s end while the non striker was outside his crease. The process is known as “Mankading” worldwide.
Polly Umrigar is definitely one of the best Indian cricketers of all time. He is the batsman to score the first double century for the Indian cricket team. Polly Umrigar was awarded the Padma Shri award by the Government of India in 1962.
Bishan Singh Bedi
Bishan Singh Bedi is definitely one of the first ever spin bowling superstars of the Indian cricket team. He played Test cricket from 1966 to 1979. Along with this, he has also captained India in 22 Test matches. He took a total of 266 wickets in 67 test matches.
Sunil Gavaskar can be called the first batting superstar of Team India. Sunil Gavaskar was given the Arjuna Award in 1975 and was awarded the Wisden Cricket Award in 1980. He became the first Indian batsman to score 1000 runs in 1 year. He also broke Donald Bradman’s record of most centuries in Test cricket with 34 centuries. His record stood for a long time until another Indian cricket superstar broke it.
Kapil Dev can be called the most successful all-rounder player of the Indian cricket team so far. Under his captaincy, Team India won the 1983 World Cup. His innings of 175 runs against the West Indies in the semi-finals of the 1983 World Cup has always been remembered. Kapil Dev has been the first such superstar of India, due to which cricket has gained momentum in India. Cricket started becoming more popular in India only after winning the 1983 World Cup, a lot of which was a result of Kapil Dev’s heroics with both the bat and the ball.
Erapalli Prasanna was a successful spinner of the Indian cricket team. In 1967 and 68, if the Indian cricket team was able to register its first overseas victory on New Zealand soil, then it was on the strength of this spin bowler. He took 25 wickets in four test matches.
Gundappa Vishwanath scored 230 runs in his first first-class match in 1967. After this, he had 9000 runs in 91 Test matches. Gundappa Vishwanath used to be an important batsman of Team India in batting.
When Team India won the World Cup in 1983, Dilip Vengsarkar was the main part of that team. Dilip Vengsarkar used to bat brilliantly and throughout the 80s he was an important batsman of Team India.
The name of Javagal Srinath is enough. Javagal Srinath was a successful fast bowler during the 90s and the early 2000s. He was known for his fiery pace and incredible consistency. Javagal Srinath is one such cricketer of Team India who participated in 4 World Cups, he is the only fast bowler from India to take more than 300 wickets. Including both Test and ODI, he took 555 wickets for Team India.
Mohammad Azharuddin was the former captain of the Indian cricket team. Mohammad Azharuddin has scored 7 centuries and 58 half-centuries in ODI cricket. Azhar scored 9378 runs in 334 ODIs at an average of 36.92 while remaining unbeaten 54 times in 308 innings. Mohammad Azharuddin has 6215 runs in 99 Test matches. While his legacy might be a little tainted because of his match fixing scandal, it can’t undo all of the great strides Indian cricket achieved under him.
Definitely one of the best Indian cricketers of all time, and quite possibly the greatest Indian bowler of all time, Anil Kumble is an absolute legend of the sport. He holds the record of getting all 10 wickets in a single inning against Pakistan at the Arun Jaitley Cricket Ground in Delhi. Also, Anil Kumble has been the most successful spinner of Team India of his era. Anil Kumble’s jaw was also broken on a tour of the West Indies, but despite this, he came out to bowl on the field. He became the first bowler to take 500 wickets for India.
Ravi Shastri is one of the greatest all rounders of the Indian cricket team. Shastri has played 150 ODIs and 80 Test cricket matches, scoring 3830 runs in Tests and 3108 runs in ODIs. Ravi Shastri was the first Indian batsman to score a double century in Australia. He also famously won an Audi 100 as the Man of The Series Award during 1985’s World Championship of Cricket.
While there have been numerous great cricketers in India and many who can find a spot in the list for the best, there is one name that is a cut above the rest. For over a decade, Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t just the best cricketer in India, he WAS cricket in India. Every single time, he went to bat with a billion hopes resting on his shoulders. Many Indians used to switch their television screens off whenever he would be dismissed. Throughout his career, Sachin Tendulkar faced extreme pressure, but he never failed to deliver.
A nightmare for bowlers all over the globe, Sachin Tendulkar amassed an obscene number of runs and a combined 100 centuries in both ODIs and Test cricket. His incredible records will probably never be broken. We can write numerous posts about just his individual records but we won’t do that today. For his incredible contribution towards cricket in India, Sachin Tendulkar was also awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 2014.
Sourav Ganguly is definitely one of the best Indian cricketers of all time. Aside from being a fantastic batsman, the “god of offside” was also one of the greatest captains in Indian history, pioneering a generation of Indian cricketers that led to India becoming the best cricket team in the world eventually. He was the fifth player in the world to score 10000 runs in cricket and the second player from India after Sachin Tendulkar.
Harbhajan Singh is one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time. The “Turbanator” is definitely one of the best Indian cricketers of all time. Harbhajan Singh has 417 wickets in 103 Test matches, 269 wickets in 236 ODIs and 29 wickets in T20Is.
Rahul Dravid was called the wall of Team India. Many times on foreign tours, Rahul Dravid had been the only saving grace of Team India. He is very well known for his impregnable defence and the incredible patience that he always showed on court. He was so versatile that he even kept wickets for some time. One of the most consistently great cricketers, “Mr. Dependable” is definitely one of the best Indian cricketers of all time.
Zaheer Khan can be called the most successful left arm bowler of the Indian cricket team. He took 311 wickets in 92 Test matches, 282 wickets in 200 ODIs and took 17 wickets in 17 T20Is. Zaheer Khan really made Indian fast bowling relevant again.
Yuvraj Singh holds the incredible record of hitting six sixes in six balls. One of the greatest all rounders of all time, Yuvraj Singh didn’t just contribute through his batting and bowling, he was also an absolute stalwart on the field, making some incredible catches and run outs in his career. He was the star contributor on the 2011 World Cup winning Indian squad and was adjudged the Man of The Tournament for his efforts.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni or “Captain Cool” is definitely the most successful captain in Indian cricket team history. It was under his captaincy that Team India captured all the ICC tournaments. Team India won the T20 World Cup in the year 2007, the World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013 under his captaincy. He was known for his incredible ability to always deliver in high pressure situations and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in many situations. A highly skilled player and a master strategist, there has never been anyone like “Mahi”.
Ravichandran Ashwin has been another successful spinner for India after Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Ravichandran Ashwin became the spinner bowler of Team India to take 100 wickets in the fewest matches. Ashwin also holds the record of taking 50 and 100 wickets in the fewest matches in Test cricket. One of the best Indian cricketers of all time, he was an indispensable part of the Indian cricket team, regardless of the game’s format.
If there is an Indian cricketer who can even sniff Sachin Tendulkar’s incredible records, it has to be Virat Kohli. He arrived on the international stage at a very young age and has been a run machine since that time. After Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he has also been the captain of the Indian cricket team and whenever he is on the crease, you can expect a big knock from the Delhi boy.
So those were the best Indian cricketers of all time. They have all contributed to the success of the Indian cricket team during their career and the story of Indian cricket can never be written without a chapter dedicated to each one of them.