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A cricket history of India spanning over 90 years, over 500 tests so far, over 290 players who have represented India in Tests out of lakhs of aspiring cricketers waiting in que. But there are handful of very discerning few in this last 10decades spanning over 500 tests that any batsman has stood out on foreign wickets. Yes there have been a lot of batsmen who have excelled on the Indian wickets and why not when the wickets and the bowlers are in your favor tweaked according to your taste.
It’s just not said for any reason that it is every batsman’s pinnacle and a dream to score a hundred at Lords followed by a century on Australian wickets like MCG, Gabba, Sydney or on the South African wickets of Durban, Oval, Pretoria, Cape Town, Johanessburg amongst others. Even a score of 60-70runs on foreign wickets is equivalent to a century at your home turf in India.
There is hardly any crowd there to support or motivate you, the opposite team has maximum crowd cheering them and rooting for them, the bowlers are usually intimidating, the bounce and the speed the wicket extracts takes the nerve out of your senses and the pressure is intense to perform. Hence, hardly any factors are in our favor when you are batting overseas and to excel and score runs flawlessly abroad makes you nothing but a legend. As far as Indian Cricket is concerned, there were hardly a few who have etched their name into the ‘hall of fame’ when it comes to being hailed as the ‘Best overseas batsmen of India’. Hence we bring out a list of the selected few who always stood out!
1. Virender Sehwag
You just can’t compare this batsman with any breed of the past, present or future cricketers. Sehwag was indeed a modern day reincarnation of Viv Richards and in fact to an extent even more than that. The fear, presence, the aura he brought into the team and into the match while he was batting, the starts which he used to give at a strike rate of almost 90 in tests along with an average of 50 is simply unmatchable. And what’s more he scored against the best. Who can forget Sehwag’s 309 vs the likes of Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mohamad Sami amongst others in Pakistan’s own den where he finished Mushtaq’s test career, who can forget Sehwag’s 195 against the bowling attack of the century consisting of Shane Warne, Stuart Macgill, Brett Lee, Glenn Mcgrath and Jason Gillespie in Australia’s own den. An average of 91.50 in Pakistan, an average of 47.00 vs Australia, 70.00 in Sri Lanka while above 50+ at West Indies and Zimbabwe made him one of the most potent overseas test batsman India has ever got to see. No matter what the wicket is, who the bowler is and what the situation of the match is, Sehwag’s game was hardly ever affected!
2. VVS LAXMAN
You can’t decipher his greatness if you google his stats, 17 test hundreds in over 130+ tests hardly does any justice, right? Well Laxman’s first 20-25 tests, he averaged only in his 20’s, he was almost written off, dropped and what not! But soon he got his groove back, his batting order reshuffled and he fired at the right time. Laxman’s flick of the wrists, his cover drives are something which is nothing short of an artistry. Mcgrath once said- ‘it’s really hard to believe how he smashed those cover drivers without any powers or footwork on Australian pitches just through the help of his wrists”, if I was not the opposition, those cover drives were the most beautiful sights in the world’. Add to it his intricate ability to play with the tail where he has rescued Indian team several times out of the rubble.
But I’d also like to disagree with the views of the critics about his lack of hundreds in tests. Laxman largely batted at 5 and 6 in Tests where you hardly get opportunities to score hundreds. He averaged 48 in those two positions, which is a to-die-for average for any position, leave alone low down where he has relatively low chances of making big hundreds – particularly since he’s batting with the tail and that was also the reason he had as many as 56test fifties.
But that’s not why he was great. He was great because he was able to consistently win Test matches from hopeless positions. I don’t need to speak of his 281 – it is legend. But there were many other times he walked into bat on a tough pitch against a difficult bowling attack with the score reading 50-4 where a 50-60 could win India the game. Those small knocks are better than double hundreds in drawn Tests on featherbeds. And he made many such fifties.
Over a thousand runs with 4centuries at an average of 55.00 against the best bowling attack of the century at that time on the toughest of wickets and overall batting average of 49.69 in 29Tests vs Australia which included 12fifites and 6hundreds made him the silent demon Australia were most intimated with.
3. Sachin Tendulkar
To start with Tendulkar has scored a test century against all the test playing Nations. In fact, he is only the 2nd one to score 150 against each of them. If you are still not satisfied with these stats, Sachin averages a superlative 54.84 in 106 overseas tests which includes staggering 29 hundreds where he has covered all the teams and grounds of the World! Also in his career spanning over 20years, he has faced hundreds of world class bowlers at their peak.
An average of 136.00 in Bangladesh, 77.00 in Zimbabwe, 68.00 in Sri Lanka, 53.00 in Australia, 54 in England, 47.00 in New Zealand and 55.00 in West Indies. Do we need to say anything more?
4. Mohinder Amarnath
Coming from a family of cricketers where his dad Lala Amarnath and brother Suridner Amarnath both have represented India in Test Cricket, the onus was on Mohinder to take the mantle ahead. While his stats were nothing extra ordinary but what set him apart was his lion like heart and fighting spirit on overseas wickets at a time and era where umpires were biased, wickets were real tough, foreign conditions were hard to survive, helmets were hardly used or upto the mark and there was no safety for the batsman either against the deadly fast bowlers. Technically, in the times of Amarnath, hardly anything was in favor of the batsman when you have to go overseas but what made him stand apart was that he averaged only a modest 30.86 in India but averaged a staggering 51.86 in 63 test innings overall in the overseas conditions. Not many batsmen in the world have such a major difference and imbalance between overseas and home records but Amarnath stood out where it was required. Everyone can be a lion in their own den but dominating on other’s den with supreme grit and confidence is what made this legend stood apart. Amarnath has scored 69% of his career test runs and 9 out of 11 centuries out of India.
5. Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid has been the great wall of Indian cricket, the silent commander, the fighter and a real test cricket player of India who can never be replaced for lifetime till the sport of cricket is alive. Under all the glory and fame which the likes of the Tendulkar’s, the Ganguly’s and the Sehwag’s kept on garnering, he kept on contributing India silently for over two decades in Test Cricket. Dravid was to an extent the Chanderpaul of India who often got under shadowed by Tendulkar just like how Lara always overshadowed the rock solid Chanderpaul. Dravid’s footwork, technique and timing against the world’s best fast bowlers on any wicket of the world made him stand out from the rest. Add to it his patience, resilience and calmness along with army level discipline and conduct on the field made him an all time great sportsperson of India as well as in the World Cricket. Most number of catches (a record 210 catches at the slips), most number of 100 and 200 run stands, highest ever partnerships, most number of runs at no.3, most number of balls faced (31,258) are some of the few records Dravid always gets under noticed for in tests which not many are even aware about.
Batting average of 75.00 with 10 centuries while India is winning overseas, overall 7690runs at a healthy average of 53.03 in 94 tests which included 36 fifties and 21 hundreds at almost all venues abroad against the best of the bowlers and teams makes him a player who definitely deserves a Bharat Ratna award from India.
6. Gundappa Vishwanath
More than the centuries, his contribution towards the nation’s win mattered more, he played the game in the right spirit. Had he wanted to play for his stats, Sir Gundappa would have been way ahead than many names which are today considered as idols and icons. GR Vishwanath was one player who liked to play his shots whether he was on 0 or 99, he was one player who faced the best bowlers in the world fearlessly, he was also called as the original little master by many and his batting was a treat for the original tradition school of cricket connoisseur. Many even hailed him more beautiful and a complete batsman than Gavaskar. Sir Gundappa excelled on the pitches where usually most of the batsman found it difficult. Also he has always averaged decent even abroad and his onslaught against England where he smashed centuries there is something a stuff of the legends. Out of the 35fifties he has in 91tests, he has scored 2530runs which includes 20 fifties & 4 tons overseas always setting the tone for India’s innings abroad with his solid yet elegant batting.
7. Dilip Vengsarkar
A tall slim player who went on to become one of the most dependable no.3 batsman of India for almost one and a half decade. Dilip Vengsarkar was a player of a different mould, he did not have the famed greatness of Gavaskar or the gracefulness of Vishwanath but he was smoothly elegant in his own way against any bowling attacks. What also made him stood apart was his ability to tear apart any world class team or a bowler when he was in that zone or when it was his day. From 1986 to 1988, Vengsarkar was the leading test batsman in the world where he scored 8 hundreds. Vengsarkar also achieved the record which all the batsman have a distant dream to achieve atleast once in a lifetime. Vengsarkar was the first player to score 3hundreds against the dreaded England at the mecca of cricket ‘The Lords’. An effortless player of hooks and pulls while one of the best in the business when it came to cover drive.
8. Tiger Pataudi
Many may wonder why his name is being mentioned in the list but as we always say, never judge a book by its cover. The frontline skipper of India who averaged 34 overall had a batting average of 37 in tests abroad while he averaged only 32 in Tests at home. Taking over the captaincy at 21, he was the youngest and the all time best skippers of India. Despite having an impair in his right eye due to an accident where he lost almost 85% sight from his right eye, still he truly played like a king and a tiger in real sense. More than that, Tiger Pataudi instilled the courage and strength in a depleted Indian side of that time who had the fear of even going abroad, forget about fighting against them with courage. MAK motivated the squad and brought the belief that winning is possible abroad too. It was because of him, India achieved its first overseas test victory against New Zealand in New Zealand in 1967.
Editor Haineel Shah