Top 20 Team India Men in Blue Players

men in blue

Making a list of top 20 Indian cricketers comes with a risk: each one of the 1.2 billion people in the country will have a list of their own. The following list of the top Men in Blue players is certainly not absolute, but if we’re being reasonable, yours cannot be that different from ours.

20. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Vijay Hazare

Career Span: 1946-1953

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He was a trendsetter for Indian cricket in the international arena. Before his time, the Indian team would simply succumb to nearly every bowling attack they came across, especially away from the sub-continent. Hazare’s finest hour came during the 1947-48 tour of Australia. In Adelaide, where the home team had piled up 674 runs, Hazare scored twin hundreds, which included a fine 145 in the second innings, when six of his fellow batsmen failed to score. Few doubt that his international record, which stands a little over 2,000 runs at 47.65, would’ve been even better had it not been for the second World War.

19. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Vinoo Mankad

Career Span: 1946-1959

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With the bat, he showcased great concentration and a robust defense. With the ball, his control of pace and variation in flight would’ve fooled any player. Mankad was among the leading all-rounders of his generation. With his traditional left-arm orthodox spin bowling, Mankad scripted India’s first win over England in Chennai in 1952. His match figures read 12-108. His finest performance with the bat also came against England at Lord’s, where he made 72 and 184.

18. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi

Career Span: 1961-1975

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Statistically, “Tiger” Pataudi doesn’t stack up to the likes of MS Dhoni or Sourav Ganguly as captain. Yet, Pataudi was arguably the best thing that happened to Indian cricket. He led the team out of its sense of defeatism and instilled in them a pride in playing for the nation. India’s first away win—against New Zealand in 1967—came under his leadership. He averaged a meagre 34 after 46 Tests. But there is a wide consensus that had his career not been affected by an eye injury, Pataudi could’ve been a batsman in the class of Sachin Tendulkar himself.

17. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Erapalli Prasanna

Career Span: 1962-1978

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Prasanna wasn’t a chess maestro, but he certainly bowled like one. To date, he is regarded as one of the finest tacticians in Indian cricket’s history, and arguably the nation’s finest ever offspinner. While his record of 189 wickets at 30.38 is not up there with India’s bests, pundits agree that he was difficult to play even on good batting pitches. Who knows what numbers he would’ve ended up with if he hadn’t taken a five-year break from the game to focus on his studies.

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16. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Bishan Singh Bedi

Career Span: 1966-1979

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Then and now, Bedi has been an outspoken man with a passionate heart—both on and off the field. During his playing days, he emerged as a master of the art of left-arm spin bowling, deceiving batsmen left, right, and center. His ability to vary flight, trajectory, and turn with almost imperceptible changes in his action made Bedi a deadly weapon. A consistent wicket-taker, he claimed 266 wickets in 67 Tests, with a successful first-class stint where he picked up more than 1,500 wickets.

15. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Gundappa Vishwanath

Career Span: 1969-1983

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Working the ball with his wrists like a magician made Vishwanath equally adept at facing pace and spin. Sunil Gavaskar rated him as the finest batsman of his era. And that’s as high as praise can get. Stats don’t show the full picture, but the right-hander was every bit crucial to the Indian side of the 1970s as Gavaskar himself. He scored 6,080 runs in 91 Tests with 14 centuries and 35 half-centuries. When the chips were down, Vishwanath stepped up more often than not. 

14. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Mohinder Amarnath

Career Span: 1969-1989

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Spanning two eventful decades, Amarnath’s career will go down in Indian cricket history as a series of comebacks. No other Indian batsman stood up to fast bowling better than “Jimmy”. And he proved that in one of his comeback seasons, 1982-83. Across 11 away Test matches, he amassed 1,182 runs with five centuries. And then, in India’s finest cricketing hour, he produced a Player of the Match performance at Lord’s in the final of the 1983 World Cup. He was a handy option with the ball as well, claiming 78 wickets across formats.

13. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Sunil Gavaskar

Career Span: 1971-1987

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Gavaskar is arguably the greatest opening batsman of all-time, certainly in the traditional format of the game. And to be fair, he was India’s first true great with the bat. A batsman from the classical school of thought, he focused on technical correctness over flair. During his 16-year career, few wickets were more prized than that of the man with the impenetrable defense. Gavaskar went on to become the first batsman to breach the 10,000-run milestone, and was also a part of India’s maiden World Cup triumph.

12. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Kapil Dev

Career Span: 1978-1994

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A man of many talents. Not only is he the best fast bowler that India has produced, but no better all-rounder has ever represented the country. No schmuck with the bat, his free-flowing batting style delivered more than 5,000 Test runs. We trace a lot of India’s recent success in the sport to the nation’s first moment of crowning glory in 1983—a moment that came about under his exuberant leadership.

11. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Sachin Tendulkar

Career Span: 1989-2013

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Arguably the most obvious selection in this list, Sachin Tendulkar’s 24-year illustrious career transcended the 22 yards on which he made his mark. From his debut, he was expected to carry the hopes of a billion people. In retrospect, the “Little Master” perfectly represents India’s transformation into a dominant force. He finished with over 34,000 runs and 100 centuries across formats. Many dub him the second coming of Sir Don Bradman himself. Others say he is the Mozart of cricket. To some, he was a religion itself.

10. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Anil Kumble

Career Span: 1990-2008

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Kumble never had the guile that most spinners come with. He certainly didn’t have the ability to spin the ball a mile like most leggies who have played the game. But Kumble went down as India’s most prolific wicket-taker, defying all conventional wisdom en route. No bowler has won India more Test matches than Kumble. His flatter trajectory and unusual pace left batsmen unsure how to play him. With time and dedication, Kumble added subtle variations in flight and spin to his arsenal.

9. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Javagal Srinath

Career Span: 1991-2003

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As the sun set on Dev’s fine career, India’s fast bowling department needed an awakening. And that man was Srinath. With a strong shoulder action and impressive pace, he defied the odds and extracted as much as possible out of the dustbowls in India. In an era dominated by spinners in the team, Srinath offered an option with both the new and old balls.

By the time he retired in 2003, with more than 550 international wickets to his name, Srinath had paved the way for the next generation of fast bowlers.

8. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Sourav Ganguly

Career Span: 1992-2008

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From an inauspicious start in 1992 to a sparkling hundred at Lord’s four years later, from captaining a side of immensely talented players to being at the helm of the BCCI itself, Ganguly’s career has been a fascinating drama to behold. A stylish left-hander, the “Prince of Calcutta” was one of the finest ODI batsmen to grace the game. But his true calling was to lead. He forged a robust side that, unlike never before, posed a threat on away tours.

7. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Rahul Dravid

Career Span: 1996-2012

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We call him “The Wall”. And with good reason. Dravid owned the expression, “To beat me, you’re going to have to kill me.” Not literally, of course.

While he batted India’s opponents out of the game with his resilience, Dravid went on to become a prolific run scorer. His tally of 13,288 Test runs and 36 hundreds is second only to Tendulkar in the nation’s history. His 180 and 233 against Australia in 2001 and 2003, respectively, will go down as two of cricket’s most defining innings.

6. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: VVS Laxman

Career Span: 1996-2012

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Much like his idol Mohammad Azharuddin, Laxman was a master of the on-side. Even better was his rare gift to hit the same ball to either side of the field. At his best, the ‘Very Very Special’ man rivalled even Tendulkar for strokeplay. Laxman amassed more than 10,000 runs on the international stage. He was a menace in the eyes of one of the greatest Australian sides ever—the 178 in the Kangaroo land, the 281 in Kolkata, or the magical 73 not out in Mohali, being some examples.

5. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Harbhajan Singh

Career Span: 1998-Present

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Passionate and equally talented, Harbhajan is the most lethal off-spinner India has ever produced. He was nicknamed the “Turbanator” by the Aussies, who couldn’t deal with him during India’s famous series victory against them in 2001. In the three matches, he collected 32 wickets—dismissing Ricky Ponting five times—while none of his teammates managed more than three. Harbhajan was part of India’s World Cup-winning squad in 2011, and has more than 700 wickets at the international stage.

4. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Virender Sehwag

Career Span: 1999-2013

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At his fluent best, Sehwag blew away bowling attacks to smithereens. If Gavaskar is considered as the finest opener in the history of the game, Sehwag is undoubtedly the most destructive of all. No player in the history of Test cricket has scored at a faster rate than him. Why even mention the shorter formats! Sure enough, his minimal footwork and maximum intent meant that bowlers were always in with a chance. It’s not just that he didn’t care; he fancied his chances more.

3. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: MS Dhoni

Career Span: 2004-2019

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By far India’s best wicket-keeper to-date. By far the most celebrated name in the nation’s cricketing history after Tendulkar himself, and the most successful captain of his side across formats, MSD arrived on the international scene with a swagger foreign to most Indian players. He left having safely established India as the team to beat across formats. With over 10,000 runs in the ODI game at a 50-plus average, his unconventional technique and calm presence earned him the reputation of being one of the finest finishers too.

2. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Yuvraj Singh

Career Span: 2000-2017

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On his day, there are few things more beautiful than Yuvraj’s batting. Well, isn’t it lovely that a major part of his 17-year career was a series of highlight reels.

Perhaps his elegance and style on the field can be traced back to a skating gold medal his father threw out of the car. A lynchpin of the Indian middle-order, Yuvraj performed when it mattered most. And no moment was more important than during the T20 World Cup triumph in 2007, and a ‘Player of the Series’ performance in the ODI World Cup in 2011—the latter coming with him battling cancer.

1. Top Team India Men in Blue Players: Virat Kohli

Career Span: 2008-Present

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He was long destined to take up the mantle as Tendulkar’s career drew to a close. And boy, has Kohli ever stepped up. Described by Martin Crowe, the former New Zealand skipper, as a rare mix of Tendulkar, Dravid, and Sehwag, Kohli has been ridiculously good across formats. The man averages 50-plus in all three! For once, it seems that Tendulkar’s plethora of records may well be broken. Since 2017, Kohli has also captained the side across all formats, leading his team to a first-ever series win in Australia and a long stay at the top of the rankings to go with. Certainly, he will go down as the most celebrated and confident India batsman of all-time whenever he calls time on his career.

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