5 Indian debutant duos who had contrasting careers

Saikat

Joginder Sharma (2L) and MS Dhoni (R) celebrating after winning the inaugural World T20 

More than 200+ cricketers have represented India in the One-Day Internationals till date but not all of them have gone on to enjoy great careers. To get a national call-up in India demands a lot of hard work and some talent but to become a successful international cricketer demands a lot more.

The challenges in international cricket are a lot stiffer than that of domestic circuit. Among the many cricketers who have represented India in ODIs, only a handful of names cemented their spot in the senior side.

Interestingly, there are instances of two players having made their respective debuts in the same game but had careers which are poles apart in terms of success. In this article, we take a look at five Indian debutant duos with contrasting careers.

#1 MS Dhoni & Joginder Sharma

Everyone remembers the 2007 T20 World Cup final

The first match of the India-Bangladesh ODI series was played at Chittagong on 23rd December 2004. For India, a young wicketkeeper-batsman and a pacer made their ODI debuts that day. Joginder Sharma, who picked up the wicket of Misbah-ul-Haq in the final of the inaugural World T20 and MS Dhoni both debuted in this match against Bangladesh. 

MS Dhoni is undoubtedly the most successful captain of the Indian cricket team as he led India to two World Cup titles during his stint as captain. He is also the only captain in history to win all the ICC-hosted global events.

The right-handed batsman is also considered as one of the best finishers in the game. He has represented and captained India in all the formats and scored close to 16,000 runs. The Ranchi-born cricketer also has more than 600 dismissals to his name.

Joginder Sharma, who bowled the last ball of that iconic final against arch-rivals Pakistan at Johannesburg, is currently working as the Deputy Commissioner of Haryana Police. The right-arm pacer from Rohtak only managed to play for the national team on eight occasions but is currently serving as an officer of the law.  

#2 Ravichandran Ashwin & Pankaj Singh

Pankaj Singh (left) and Ravichandran Ashwin (right) made their ODI debuts together (Picture courtesy – Cricketcountry)

On 5 June 2010, India played against Sri Lanka at the Harare Sports Club in a Triangular series. In this match, the Indian think tank made two changes in the bowling attack. They opted for two bowlers who had impressed everyone with their performances in that year’s edition of the Indian Premier League.

Both Ravichandran Ashwin and Pankaj Singh made their respective debuts in ODIs for the Indian cricket team in a losing cause against a resolute Sri Lankan team. Ravichandran Ashwin went on to win the World Cup in 2011 and also cemented his place in all the international formats for his nation. The Chennai-born off-spinner has already picked up more than 350 wickets in international cricket and is also a key member of the current team.

On the other hand, the other debutant on that warm day in Harare, Pankaj Singh, was once touted as one of the finest young talents in the cricket-crazy country. Interestingly, that sub-continental encounter was the only ODI appearance for the right-arm fast bowler from Rajasthan. He was then recalled to the national side and played two Test matches against England in India’s tour of England in 2014. 

 #3 Gautam Gambhir & Aavishkar Salvi

Aavishkar Salvi (left) celebrating a fall of wicket with his Delhi Daredevils teammates in the IPL

The first match of the TVS Cup was played between hosts Bangladesh and India at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka on 11th April 2003. Two aspiring young talents from India made their respective ODI debuts in that match. Gautam Gambhir was chosen as the opening partner of Virender Sehwag and Aavishkar Salvi chosen as the new ball partner of Zaheer Khan.

Gautam Gambhir went on to win two World Cups with the Indian cricket team in two different formats along with leading Kolkata Knight Riders to IPL glory. The left-handed batsman from Delhi was one of the key performers in the World Cup 2011 final against Sri Lanka. He represented India in all the three formats and scored close to 10,000 runs in international cricket.

However, the other debutant in that match, Aavishkar Salvi only played four ODIs for the Indian cricket team. The Mumbai-born cricketer played his last first-class match for Mumbai against Bengal back in 2012. 

#4 Suresh Raina & Venugopal Rao

Venugopal Rao (left) trains with Suresh Raina (right) ahead of their ODI debuts 

On 30th July 2005, in the Indian Oil Cup’s opening match against Sri Lanka, two extremely promising batsman from India made their debut at Dambulla. In that match, both Suresh Raina and Venugopal Rao were awarded a debut for performing exceptionally well in the domestic season.

Suresh Raina lasted only 2 balls in that match and went back to the pavilion without opening his account. However, the left-handed batsman from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh was a member of the Indian team which lifted the World Cup in 2011.

He has more than 8,000 international runs across all formats and was one of the national side's mainstays until a few years back.

Venugopal Rao essayed a useful knock of 38 in his debut match to guide India towards a respectable total but only managed to play only 15 more ODIs wearing the Indian jersey. The Visakhapatnam-born right-handed batsman was once touted as the replacement of the great Sourav Ganguly but couldn’t perform consistently for the team. 

#5 Sachin Tendulkar & Salil Ankola

Salil Ankola in action during a match (Picture courtesy – Indiatimes)

The Indian tour of Pakistan of 1989 is remembered as the tour where arguably the greatest batsman of all time made his debut against one of the best sub-continental pace attacks of all time. On 28th December 1989, India squared off against Pakistan in the second ODI at Gujranwala. Sachin Tendulkar made his ODI debut in that match alongside pacer Salil Ankola.

The young right-handed batsman from Mumbai lasted only two balls and went back to the dressing room without troubling the scoreboard but went to become the greatest of all time. Sachin is the highest run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs with more than 34,000 runs to his name. He is the only man in history to score 100 international centuries. The once batting prodigy of Indian cricket went on to become the hope of millions of people.

Salil Ankola picked up two wickets that day in that rain-affected match which the hosts won by seven runs. The Sholapur-born right-arm pacer then featured in 20 ODI matches for team India. He also played a single Test match for India against Pakistan. Ankola played his last first-class match in the 1996-97 season at the age of 28 and the went on to pursue a career as an actor.