10. Syed Abid Ali
An athletic, brisk medium pace bowler who exuded energy to others in the field, Syed Abid Ali, was born on the 9th of September 1941 in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh. He represented Hyderabad state team in the domestic tournament and was picked for the Indian team replacing the injured captain M. A. K. Pataudi, for the Indian tour of Australia in December 1967.
Ali was a right arm medium pace bowler and a right handed middle order batsman. His debut was the first Test of the Australian tour played at Adelaide. Australia decided to bat first after winning the toss and set a total of 335 in the first innings with most of their top order batsmen contributing with half centuries. Abid Ali was the only bowler who stood as a barrier for the Aussies to reach a massive score. Had it not been for Ali’s magical figures of 6 for 55, the Kangaroos would have made a 500 plus score. He dismissed almost all the top scoring batsmen on the Aussie line-up not letting them continue for long. In reply, India compiled a competitive total of 307 and Abid Ali made his contribution in the middle order with a valuable 33 runs. Australia, batting in the second innings, set a target of 398 runs for India but they fell 146 runs short. Again in the second innings Ali scored 33 runs with the bat.
His figures remained best by an Indian on debut for 21 years until Narendra Hirwani broke it in 1988. Later on he served as the coach for Hyderabad state team, UAE national team and the Maldivian team.
9. Brijesh Patel
Brijesh Patel was a right-handed middle order batsman who played 21 tests and 10 ODIs for India from 1974 to 1979. He was born in Bangalore on the 24th of November 1952 and attended Bishop Cotton Boys School where he represented India in a junior team that toured Australia. Throughout his career he represented the Karnataka state team and led them to many victories.
After shining as a prolific run getter in domestic cricket with 37 hundreds and over 11000 runs in first class cricket, he was called in to represent India in the 12th ODI of the Indian cricketing history on the 13th of July 1974 against England at Leeds. England won the toss and elected to field first. After Gavaskar and Naik provided a solid start for India, Ajith Wadekar scored a steady 67 to improvise the score. When India were 4 for 130, Patel walked in and started his usual stroke play that earned him so many runs in domestic cricket. Along with Wadekar who was sailing steady, he added 51 to the 5th wicket. After Wadekar’s dismissal at 181, Abid Ali was the only tail ender who provided some support to Patel who took the responsibility on his shoulders and took India to a competitive total of 265 in their 55 overs. He scored 82 runs in 78 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes.
Even though India lost the game due to some quality batting from the Englishmen, Patel’s 82 was a big plus for him and India as it was a colorful yet responsible innings under pressure. In the matches followed He and Gundappa Viswanath made a formidable pair in the middle order for India. Patel later became a cricket administrator.
8. Robin Uthappa
A hard hitting, technically sound opening batsman caught the eye of Indian selectors in 2005 when India B were playing against India A in the challenger trophy in Mumbai. In the subsequent edition of the same tournament next year, he scored a match winning 100 in 93 balls to earn a place in the Indian national team. Robin Uthappa, who made his debut in 2006 for India, was born on 11th November 1985 in Kodagu, Karnataka and represented Karnataka and Kolkata Knight Riders teams.
On his ODI debut, which was the seventh and the final ODI of the English tour of India in April 2006 played at Indore, he opened the batting for India. England were on a dominant position after scoring 288, being put to bat first by the Indian captain. Uthappa was replacing Virender Sehwag and it was a golden opportunity for him to capitalize on. He rose to the occasion in grand style scoring a breathtaking 86 off 96 balls. It was a great day for India with the bat as all four top order batsmen scored half centuries with strike rates over 80. Uthappa was the top scorer of the match, contributing to a splendid opening stand of 166 runs with Rahul Dravid which sealed the victory for India. He was dismissed in one of the most undesired ways for a batsman to perish; run out failing to ground the bat. Even though he failed to score a ton on his debut, it was a valiant effort given the circumstances.
Uthappa was part of the Indian team which won the T20 world cup in 2007 but afterwards he suffered from poor form and was dropped from the squad. His last ODI was in 2015 against Zimbabwe and he continues to play for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
7. K. L. Rahul
Kannur Lokesh Rahul was born on the 18th of April 1992 in Mangalore, Karnataka. He is a right handed batsman who keeps wickets occasionally and represents Karnataka and the Royal Challengers Bangalore teams.
Just like many talented young cricketers currently representing India, Rahul too was picked from the ICC under 19 World Cup. He made his international debut against Australia in the “Boxing Day Test” at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, replacing injured Rohit Sharma. His test debut was not a very significant one in terms of his performance. But he made his mark with his maiden test hundred in the second test, scoring 110 runs. Rahul’s ODI debut was a spectacular one with a magnificent century against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2016. He made history with that performance, becoming the first Indian batsman to score a century on his debut and receiving the Man of the Match award. He attributed his ODI debut success to his failure on Test debut. “Of course I learnt a lot from my debut in Australia and the way I was myself there,” he said. His 100 against Zimbabwe was a dramatic one. He was on 92 and India needed only four to win. Rahul took two, moved to 94 and then struck a splendid six over long on to end the match and get to his century at the same time. “There’s not much that went through, I didn’t want to be on 94 for a long time and let a lot of thoughts come in my mind,” he said.
Rahul is highly rated among the India’s next generation opening batsmen and will make it to the top to become an all time great if he continues to play for India.
6. Navjot Sidhu
Often called a split personality when batting and an outspoken when commentating, Navjot Singh Sidhu, was born in Patiala, Punjab on 20th October 1963. He made his test debut in 1983 and ODI debut in 1987 and represented India for 19 long years and was part of the Punjabi state team as well. His test debut was not a successful one and following that tour he was dropped from the national team.
Sidhu got the opportunity to play for his country in the Reliance Cricket World Cup which was held in his home country. This was a god given opportunity for him to prove himself and regain his lost position in the team. His debut was the 3rd match of the tournament against Australia on the 9th of October 1987 played at the Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai. Sidhu’s ODI debut brought him luck and gave him his lost glory. After winning the toss, India put Australia in and the Aussies set a challenging total of 270. Rodney Marsh’s 110 was the highlight of the innings. Chasing 270, India started off brilliantly with an opening stand of 69 between Gavaskar and Srikkanth. Gavaskar fell for 37 and Sidhu walked in with lot to prove. A lot did he prove with his aggressive stoke play at times and defensive nudges at times. He offered much support to Srikkanth and added 62 for the 2nd wicket. After Srikkanth’s demise, he took the whip on his hands and hammered the Aussie bowlers dispatching the ball in every direction one can imagine. Sidhu scored 73 off 79 deliveries including 4 elegant fours and 5 breathtaking sixes. He was dismissed when India were 207 and unfortunately India lost the game by just 1 run.
It was a thrilling game of cricket at the World Cup and Sidhu’s innings was a memorable one. He went on to score 3 more fifties in a row in the subsequent matches sending ripples of joy through the Indian camp.
5. Ravichandran Ashwin
The fastest Indian bowler to reach 50, 100, 150, 200 and 250 wicket marks in Test cricket, Ashwin was born on 17th of September 1986 in Madras, Tamilnadu. He is an all-rounder who bowls right arm off break and bats in the middle order. Ashwin represents Tamilnadu in domestic cricket and played for Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiants in the IPL. He made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in 2010 after performing well in the 2010 IPL. A year later he was capped in Tests on the 6th November 2011 against the West Indies.
His ODI debut performance was fairly impressive with 2 wickets for 50 and 38 runs off his bat. What was remarkable was his Test debut. It was the first Test of the West Indian tour of India in 2011 played at Delhi. After winning the toss, West Indies had no hesitation deciding to bat first. A patient anchor role played by Chandrapaul with 118 runs to his name took West Indies to a decent total of 304 amidst some high-quality spin bowling from Ohja and Ashwin. Ohja bagged 6 wickets and Ashwin picked up 3 but his best was yet to come. Indian top order batted well to get to half centuries but no one went on to play the long innings. As a result, the middle order collapsed and India were all out for 209 falling 95 runs short of the West Indian total. With hopes of improvising their lead and setting up a big total for India to follow, West Indies started their second innings. Dhoni made yet another surprise move by opening the bowling with Ohja and Ashwin and it worked as planned. The Carribeans struggled to get in to any form of rhythm with Ashwin bowling all his arm balls, Carrom balls and what not. Chandrapaul and Sammy were the only batsmen to get close to a fifty. As a result, West Indian second innings was restricted to 180 runs, leaving India 276 to chase. Ashwin finished his heroics with figures of 6 for 47 in 21.3 overs.
His performance helped India win the match and start the series with confidence. He continued to perform well in Test cricket and became the fastest player to get to 250 test wickets.
4. Lala Amarnath
These were the donkey’s years of Indian cricket. Lala Amarnath was the first cricket captain of Independent India and is considered a father figure of Indian cricket. He was born on the 11th of September 1911 in Kapurthala, Punjab. He played 24 Tests for India and 184 first class matches where he scored over 10,000 runs with 30 centuries.
Amarnath made his Test debut when England toured India in December 1933 for the first ever Test match between the two countries. India won the toss and elected to bat first. After a brief opening stand of 44 Amarnath came in as number 3 batsman and scored 38 emerging the top scorer of the Indian 1st innings. India were all out for 219 and in reply, English batsmen compiled a mammoth 438 in their first innings. With immense burden on their shoulders Indain batsmen walked in to the crease hoping for a miracle. First two wickets fell down in quick succession and it was left to Amarnath and C. K. Naydu, the captain, to perform the miracle. Amarnath scored a magnificent 118 including 21 fours and added 186 for the 3rd wicket along with Naydu who contributed with 67. It was a big relief for the otherwise dried up Indain batting scorecard. His innings and the partnership saved India from an outright defeat. He later described his effort “as if possessed by a mysterious power.”
England won the match by 9 wickets. However, it was a courageous effort by the Indians and especially from Amarnath. He made history by becoming the first ever Indain to score a century in Test cricket. He is also remembered and revered as an icon who stood up for Indian cricket.
3. Rohit Sharma
The current Vice Captain of the Indian ODI team, Sharma was born on the 30th of April 1987 in Nagpur, Maharashtra. This elegant right handed top order batsman, who has potential to become an all time great, made his ODI debut in 2007 and his Test debut in 2013. He is part of the Mumbai domestic team and the captain of the Mumbai Indians.
His ODI debut against Ireland in 2007 was not an eventful one as he didn’t get the opportunity to bat. After playing 108 ODIs in the next 6 years, he made his Test debut in 2013 against West Indies where he established a record, scoring two centuries in the first two innings of his Test career. The West Indian tour of India was a special one as it was Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell test series. Sharma was lucky to be part of a test team that included the great man and bid him farewell with a memorable victory. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, West Indians amassed a below average score of 234 for the first innings thanks to some patient batting from Samuels and Chandrapaul. In reply, India started the proceedings somewhat steady but lost their first 5 wickets at regular intervals leaving Sharma and Dhoni the rebuilding task. They added 73 for the 6th wicket and Dhoni was dismissed when India were at 156. Ashwin, with little experience with the bat, joined Sharma and put on one of the best partnerships Test cricket has ever seen. The duo added 280 runs for the 7th wicket which took the game away from the Windies. Rohit Sharma ended up scoring 177 runs on his debut taking India to a much needed victory.
With this great innings which was followed by another in the next match, Sharma established himself as a permanent member of the Indian Test side, and the cricketing world saw signs of yet another great Indian batsman in the making.
2. Narendra Hirwani
Widely remembered for his success on test debut, Narendra Deepchand Hirwani was born on the 18th of October 1968 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. He started his first class career at the age of 16 playing for the Madhya Pradesh state. He took 23 wickets as a leg spinner in an under 19 Test series against Australia and subsequently was picked for the Indian national test squad in the West Indian tour of India, at the age of 20.
He made his debut on the final test of the series which was played at Chennai on the 11th of January 1988. India won the toss and elected to bat first. Arun Lal’s 69 and Kapil Dev’s magnificent 109 took India to a competitive total of 382 in the first innings. In what was called an “under-prepared pitch”, Hirwani started hunting Carribeans one by one. Richie Richardson fell prey as the first ever test wicket of Hirwani’s career and seven West Indian batsmen followed. Sir Vivian Richards was the only half-centurion who took West Indies to a total of 182, avoiding follow on. With figures of 8 for 61, Hirwani became the 4th bowler to take 8 wickets on a debut test innings. India improvised their lead adding 217 in the second innings, leaving a target of 416 for the West Indians. Under pressure, the Carribeans succumbed to another repeated performance of world-class leg spin bowling from Hirwani. He took 8 for 75 in the second innings with match figures of 16 for 136 which is the world record for best figures on a debut. In his first four tests, he bagged 36 wickets, the most by any bowler at the early stage of their career.
Hirwani’s world record stands to this date and he once said that he would love to see an Indian breaking his record.
1. Shikar Dhawan
He put an end to India’s long quest for a technically sound, formidable left handed opener after Ganguly. It seemed like Indian selectors were relieved after Dhawan’s entry. Born in Delhi on the 5th December 1985, Dhawan played for the Indian under 17 and 19 teams. He represents Delhi in the domestic tournament and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. He made his ODI debut in 2010 against Australia and his Test debut against the same opposition in 2013.
He was dismissed for a duck in his ODI debut and as it was the case with K. L. Rahul, Dhawan was destined to make a huge impact on his Test debut. It was the third test in the Australian tour of India in March 2013. Australia decided to bat first after winning the toss and got off to a fabulous start with an opening stand of 139 between Warner and Cowan. After few quick wickets in the middle, Starc and Smith joined the party to take the Aussies to a huge total of 408. In reply India started off with a once in a lifetime partnership between Dhawan and Murali Vijay of 289 runs. Dhawan was the main striker with 33 fours and 2 sixes at a strike rate of 107.4. He scored 187 runs off 174 balls, batting for 60 overs and this innings is considered the best batting performance by an Indian on debut. India surpassed the Australian total and won the Test ultimately.
Dhawan won the award for the Man of the Match and established himself not only in the Indian team but also in the cricketing world at large.