For a major part of the 20th century and even at the start of the 21st century, Indian cricketers weren't exactly known for their fitness. Cricket hadn't really evolved to the high-octane, demanding sport it is now, but even after significant emphasis had been placed on fitness and stamina, India didn't really adjust to the times.
But then a certain MS Dhoni took over at the helm of the national side and demanded that all his players save at least 10-15 runs in the field and run hard between the wickets. He even rotated the senior players in a brave attempt to improve fielding standards.
His successor, Virat Kohli, has taken it a step further and made India one of the best fielding sides in the world. The improvement in fitness standards is incredibly evident, but given the sheer amount of cricket that is being played, it is still difficult for players to rack up many appearances in a row.
In this article, we take a look at the 3 Indian cricketers who have made the most consecutive ODI appearances.
#3 Virat Kohli (102 matches)
Between 25 August 2010 and 5 March 2014, current Indian skipper Virat Kohli played 102 ODIs in a row. In these matches, he scored 4,552 runs at an average of 54.84, with 22 fifties and 17 hundreds to his name.
Kohli enjoyed great success against Australia in this period, averaging 63.11 and scoring 3 hundreds and 2 fifties in 11 innings. The right-hander also put West Indies, England and New Zealand to the sword.
Against neighbours Sri Lanka, the Delhi batsman took it a step further. In 17 innings, Kohli scored 4 hundreds and 3 fifties at an average of 64.85, including a win in the World Cup final at home in 2011.
One of these centuries was a career-defining knock of 133* at Hobart, where India and Kohli chased down 320 in just 36.4 overs (a chase within 40 overs was required) in the CB series. The innings is remembered for the hammering Kohli doled out to veteran pacer Lasith Malinga, with the Mumbai Indians bowler conceding 96 runs in just 7.4 overs.
#2 Mohammad Azharuddin (126 matches)
Between 6 December 1991 and 3 May 1997, former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin played 126 consecutive ODIs for his country, scoring 3,774 runs at an average of 38.12. Although the classy batsman scored 27 fifties in this time frame, he did not register a single century.
The year 1993 was especially fruitful for Azharuddin, and he scored 769 runs at an average of 59.15, with 8 half-centuries as well. As far as oppositions are concerned, the wristy right-hander's favourites were Sri Lanka and England, with 50+ averages against both and a combined 10 fifties.
However, Azharuddin form started deteriorating in 1996, and his legendary international career would come to end at the turn of the century due to an ugly match-fixing scandal that threatened to damage Indian cricket beyond repair.
#1 Sachin Tendulkar (185 matches)
The legendary Sachin Tendulkar made his India debut in 1989 and although his first few international innings didn't go to plan, he soon established himself as a regular in the national ODI lineup.
In a period of exactly eight years starting on 25 April 1990, the Master Blaster played 185 consecutive ODIs for his country, scoring 6,620 runs at an average of 40.61. Tendulkar also scored 15 of his 49 ODI hundreds in this period, and as a testament to his fitness, even picked up 62 wickets with a combination of medium-pace and spin. He also took 65 catches.
The great man took a particular liking to the Kangaroos, with 4 hundreds at an average of 55.95. The year 1996 was a prolific one for Tendulkar as he scored 1,611 runs in just 32 matches, with 6 three-figure scores.
Over the course of his decades-long international career, Sachin Tendulkar scored 18,426 runs in 463 matches, and retired as a World Cup winner and arguably the greatest batsman of all time.