When Harbhajan Singh stepped on to the field for the first Test against Australia at Chennai, he joined the elite club of cricketers to have played 100 Tests for India. Although his performance in the first innings at Chennai wasn’t worthy of the occasion, it was a significant achievement nonetheless. We tried to rate the ‘centurions’ of India cricket in order of the impact they made on the team’s fortunes.
10. Harbhajan Singh: The Indian off-spinner is lucky to have touched the 100-Test mark in spite of his indifferent form in recent times. A decade back, he was among the best off-spinners in the world, but although he has picked up over 400 Test wickets, he hasn’t made the kind of progress India expected him to post the 2001 series against Australia. His away record also stands in his way of being rated a great.
9. Sourav Ganguly: The left-handerwas a goodTest batsman, who could have achieved a lot more had he not been captain of the team. The pressure of leadership never allowed him to flourish as a batsman in his later years. At his peak though, he was amongst the most graceful batters in the world. His significant contribution was as a captain under whose guidance Team India blossomed.
8. Virender Sehwag: Had Sehwag continued batting in the manner he had done till four seasons back, he would have been among the greatest batsmen in the world today. However, of recently, he has been easy meat for bowlers, raising questionmarks over his place in the team. His impact on the team, however, cannot be disputed. He remains the only Indian player to have scored triple hundreds in Tests.
7. Dilip Vengsarkar: The Colonelwas elegance-personified, but that did not make him take things easy. More often than not, Vengsarkar’s big knocks came when the team was in trouble, and that’s what made him such a crucial figure in the Indian side in the 80’s. Enough has been said about his exceptional hundred-scoring spree at Lord’s.
6. Anil Kumble: Formost part of his career, Jumbo was regarded as a match-winner only in Indian conditions. During the last few years of his career though, Kumble improved his overseas record tremendously, and was a key factor in most of India’s away wins -- without doubt, the greatest leg-spinner to have represented India.
5. VVS Laxman: The special man of Indian cricket is most remembered for turning around the fortunes of the side in the 2000’s. His 281 is possibly the most impactful knock in Indian cricket. Laxman also developed a habit of winning and saving matches for India from improbable situations.
4. Rahul Dravid: That Indiastartedwinning abroadhada lot to do with Dravid getting those big scores. Whether it was Adelaide, Headingley or Perth, it was Dravid who came up with the significant contributions. One of India’s best without doubt.
3. Sachin Tendulkar: Considering his longevity in the game alone, the Mumbai maestro qualifies as a great. But, the fact that he has had such a consistent run over the two-decade period, makes him greater. There was a time in the 90’s when Tendulkar singlehandedly shouldered the burdened of Indian cricket, almost unbelievably.
2. Sunil Gavaskar: Another Mumbaikar, Sunny makes it above Tendulkar in the list because he performed brilliantly against the West Indians pace battery when they were at their best. Tendulkar was also exceptional against the Aussies, but, perceptibly, the job for Gavaskar was tougher, also considering that he was an opener.
1. Kapil Dev: This was the easiest choice. In a land of snake-charmers and spinners, Dev became India’s first fast bowler. He inspired India to numerous wins in all kinds of conditions. With the bat he was more than handy, at times sensational.
--By A Cricket Analyst