Opening batters form the core of any side, irrespective of the format they play. Any opener’s responsibility is to lay a solid foundation enabling the other batters to take the momentum forward and put up a big total on the board.
Indian cricket has witnessed some fine openers in the last so many years, and these openers have given many memorable wins to the team. This piece discusses the top ten Indian openers of all time.
These Indian openers varied in their style of play, temperament, technique, and stroke play depending on the wickets they played on as well as the conditions, but they were match-winners in the true sense. They have played some outstanding knocks which were a treat to watch. Let’s discuss in detail about these openers.
10. Navjot Singh Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sidhu has played some fine match-winning knocks for team India in the past. Whether it is the front foot punch or playing straight down the ground, Sidhu scored runs with his ability to judge the length early.
The 58-year-old scored 2418 runs in 63 ODI innings registering 4 centuries and 15 half-centuries with a highest score of unbeaten 134 with an average of 40.30. The right-hander scored 2911 runs in 69 Test innings, registering 8 centuries and 15 half-centuries with a highest score of 201 against West Indies in 1997. His Test average was 42.81, which was quite impressive.
9. Shikhar Dhawan
The flamboyant left-hander was a perfect replacement for Virender Sehwag after his retirement. The 37-year-old can play powerful square cuts and hit some cracking cover drives with his strong bottom hand.
Dhawan has scored 6672 runs in his ODI career so far as an opener registering 17 centuries and 38 half-centuries with a highest score of 143 in 158 ODI innings with an average of 45.08 and a strike rate of 91.08. Most importantly, he scored them quick.
The left-hander has so far scored 2315 runs in 58 Test innings, registering 7 centuries and 5 half-centuries with a highest score of 190, averaging 40.61 and a strike rate of 66.95.
8. Pankaj Roy
Many would find this name quite surprising, but the right-hander was India’s most stylish and elegant opener during the 1950s. Roy played some fine late cuts while his cover drives were full of well-timed strokes.
The former Indian opener scored 2220 runs in 74 test innings with the highest score of 173 against New Zealand and registered 4 centuries and 9 half-centuries as an opener. It would be best to read about this particular feat of Pankaj, which is still unbeaten after half a decade, to understand how good he was during his period.
7. Kris Srikkanth
Arguably the first Indian opener, which brought a new kind of charisma to Indian batting. The next generation of Indian batters followed his aggressive approach, especially in the limited-overs format. The right-hander faced the deadliest of West Indian, Australian, and English bowlers with courage.
Bonus Read: The Art of Fearless Cricket
Srikkanth cut the ball powerfully and pulled ball solidly on the back foot, much to the delight of the fans. He was the one who brought an unorthodox style of play.
The opener from Tamil Nadu scored 2062 runs in his Test career as an opener registering 2 centuries and 12 half-centuries in 72 innings with the highest score of 123 against Pakistan. The right-hander scored 4091 runs in 146 ODIs, registering 4 centuries and 27 half-centuries in his limited-overs career.
6. Rohit Sharma
Arguably the most elegant batsman in modern-day cricket, calm and collected during pressure situations. He has all the shots in the book regarding his elegant stroke play and balance.
The 35-year-old scored 7409 runs in 147 ODI innings, registering 27 centuries and 33 half-centuries with a highest score of 264, an average of 56.56, and a strike rate of 92.50 as an opener. The way he dominates the charts of most 150s and 200s in ODI talks loud about the hitman.
The right-hander has scored 1552 runs in 30 Test innings with the highest score of 212, registering 5 centuries and 4 half-centuries with an average of 55.45.
5. Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir’s on-field flamboyance was visible in his aggressive batting. The left-hander had the temperament to bail India out of pressure situations. The 41-year-old played some wonderful drives and played some elegant late cuts. Gambhir played the spinners well, even on turning wickets.
In 101 Test innings, Gambhir scored 4119 runs scoring 9 centuries and 22 half-centuries with a highest score of 206 and an average of 42.91.
In 91 ODI innings, Gambhir scored 8 centuries and 21 half-centuries, with the highest score of 150. He has scored 3367 runs as an ODI opener with an average of 39.61.
4. Virender Sehwag
‘The Nawab of Najfgarh’ was a nightmare for the bowlers when he got going with his destructive style of play. With his powerful cuts and cracking drives, the right-hander smashed the bowlers to the fence with tremendous power.
The right-hander scored 7518 runs in 214 games as an opener in ODIs with an average of 36.49, scoring 14 centuries. He scored 8207 runs as a Test opener in 170 innings with the highest score of 319, registering 22 centuries and 30 half-centuries with an average of 50.04 and a strike rate of 83.08.
3. Sourav Ganguly
‘The Prince of Kolkata,’ as he is fondly called, was all about his flamboyant captaincy, while his batting was all about timing and placement. The left-hander played some wonderful drives in his favorite area, the off-side.
Ganguly played some fine back foot punches with his elegant stroke play. Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar formed one of the most dangerous opening pairs in ODI cricket.
Ganguly scored 9157 runs in 241 matches as an opener scoring 19 centuries and 58 half-centuries with an average of 41.57 and the highest score of 183.
2. Sachin Tendulkar
The ‘Master Blaster’ as he is fondly called and ‘The God of Indian Cricket’ during his playing days was a pure class with his straight drives, cover drives, square cuts, back foot punches, and cracking pull shots.
The 48-year-old broke all records during his playing days. Tendulkar was a gentleman on and off the field.
He scored 15310 runs at an average of 48.29 in 344 games he played as an opener. He also registered 45 ODI centuries as an opener.
Bonus Read: 10 records of Sachin that are likely to stay forever.
1. Sunil Gavaskar
The first batsman in Indian cricketing history to register 10,000 plus runs in Test cricket. The ‘Little Master,’ as he is fondly called, was full of determination, concentration, and a never say die attitude.
Gavaskar possessed solid technique and showcased courage against some of the deadly fast bowlers of the Caribbean. His straight drives were a treat to watch.
The right-hander scored 9607 runs as an opener with an average of 50.29 and registered 33 centuries and 42 half-centuries with a highest score of 221 as an opener. His overall highest score was an unbeaten 236.
Bonus Read: India’s Best ODI XI of All Time