The Man of the Series is one of the most coveted awards a player can receive at the end of a tournament. It signifies and rewards the player for the consistent handwork they have put in. This reward becomes even more special if his team has won the series, but on a series loss, it feels like a consolation award for their individual efforts which failed to carry the team over the line.
One Day International (ODI) cricket is one of the toughest formats of the game. Batsmen have to meticulously calculate and plan the way they are going to go about scoring the runs, while the bowlers have to execute their plans in perfectly to get the batsmen out. The all-rounders have the most to gain from this format as they get a fair share of bowling and batting, while also getting the appreciation of their teammates if they contribute in either aspect of the game.
The Indian cricket team has always been one of the most dominant teams in world cricket. So it is not surprising that four Indians feature in the top 10 players who have received the most number of Man of the Series awards.
On that note, here are three Indian cricketers who have received the most Man of the Series awards in the 50-over format.
#3 Yuvraj Singh - 7
There are very few better sights in world cricket than witnessing a free-flowing Yuvraj Singh at his best. Undoubtedly, he is right up there among the greatest match-winners in white-ball cricket. Those glorious cover drives, slap cuts through backward point and an effortless wristy drop kick over mid-wicket, all oozed class.
The legend of Indian cricket is still considered among the best left-handed batsmen that the world of cricket has ever encountered. In his prime, Yuvraj could hit the ball coming at him as clean and far that anybody could imagine. He used to do it all with so much ease and flamboyance that bowlers always wanted to avoid bowling to ‘the six-king’ of Indian cricket. Yuvraj was always the X-factor in the Indian squad, taking crucial wickets and notching up match-winning innings whenever needed the most.
He received his first Man of the Series award when India hosted South Africa for a five-match ODI series in 2005. Although the series was drawn, Yuvraj played a pivotal role in the matches that India won. Since then, he has received five more awards in bilateral series with two of them being against arch-rivals Pakistan, and one each against England and Sri Lanka.
His last, but the one which will be most cherished was the award he picked up at the ICC World Cup 2011, where he scored 362 runs in eight innings while also picking up 15 wickets from nine matches. His performance in the tournament is viewed as one of the major factors for India's victory till date.
#2 Virat Kohli - 9
There are some cricketers whose consistent success is admired by everyone. And then there are others, who are so successful and consistent that if they fail even once, it takes everyone by surprise.
Virat Kohli belongs to the second category. Seeing Sachin Tendulkar hang his boots in 2013 was painful, but the swift rise of Kohli has alleviated the pain in no time. Both may be poles apart in their attitudes or playing style, perhaps, but the one thing similar between them is consistency.
Rarely has the cricketing world seen such a consistent player like Kohli. Kohli always wanted to be more: a cricketer whom the opposition would be in awe of, a cricketer whose presence would raise the intensity of the contest. He has lived every ball, competed in each moment, and made sure he has had the fitness and strength to do so. He has been widely credited for changing the fitness culture in Indian cricket, introducing endurance tests as a criterion for selection.
Most recently, Kohli won the Man of the Series award for his fine performances against West Indies. Throughout his career, Kohli has picked up a total of nine Man of the Series awards. And, with him being in the peak of career, one can surely expect many more awards from Kohli, given how he has revolutionised the way youngsters perceive fitness in the modern era.
#1 Sachin Tendulkar - 15
There are sports champions, then there are sporting legends, and then finally, there is God! Cricket is a religion in India, and Sachin Tendulkar is perceived as the God of cricket.
Very few cricketers, for that matter even sportsmen have captured the imagination of the entire world the way Tendulkar has. He needs no introduction, but his life story sure needs to be cherished. Sachin Tendulkar dominated with the bat in an era that saw some of the fiercest seam bowlers of all time in their prime such as Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and Shaun Pollock.
Also, swing-bowling greats like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, spin legends such as Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, express pacers such as Brett Lee, Allan Donald and Shoaib Akhtar were at the peak of their powers during the Little Master’s reign.
Tendulkar not only survived the ambush across the turn of the millennium, but played his best cricket during this period. It was all based on a strong foundation and a rock-solid technique.
Such has been the consistency of Tendulkar that even though India did not win major World tournaments, Sachin was adjudged the Man of the Series. As for his last Man of the Series award, it came against South Africa in 2010, where he scored 204 runs in just two games against the Proteas, including the first-ever 200 to be scored by a batsman in the ODI format of the game.