In the cricket-crazy country that is India, the competition for spots in the national team is incredibly fierce. With millions of people vying for just 11 spots, various cricketers are bound to face disappointments along the way.
With this fact in mind, former India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid even devised a system where the players in the youth teams are rotated for each series, with a given set of young cricketers getting only 3-4 chances to make a name for themselves. He also brought in a rule which stated that a player would only be allowed to play in one U-19 World Cup.
With these cut-throat rules present even at the junior level, it comes as no surprise that the senior team offers very few chances for aspiring cricketers to fix their spots in the playing XI. In the process, many talented players have found themselves left by the wayside, hard done by on various occasions.
In this article, we take a look at India's 5 most unlucky cricketers of the last decade.
#5 Karun Nair
Indian middle-order batsman Karun Nair scored a Test triple century against England in 2016, but has played only three games since.
Owing to the return of the injured Ajinkya Rahane and India's desire to play five bowlers, Nair found himself out of the Test setup despite becoming only the second Indian to score a triple ton in the longest format of the game.
“I played four innings probably in the Australia series, and I think any batsman could get a start and get out in two innings and could have two failures. But to be out of the team after that and not get a chance after that is just unfortunate," the 28-year-old said.
With Hanuma Vihari performing decently whenever he has gotten a chance and Ravindra Jadeja often used at No. 6, the doors aren't exactly open for the Karnataka batsman to make a return, although he has even scored a triple ton in the Ranji Trophy final.
#4 Manoj Tiwary
Manoj Tiwary scored a fighting century in an ODI against West Indies in 2011, winning the Man of the Match award as well. But the middle-order batsman didn't even feature in the playing XI for India's next 14 ODIs.
Although he made a comeback in 2012 and even picked up 4 wickets with the ball in hand, Tiwary hasn't played for India since 2015. The 34-year-old has even been overlooked in Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions, despite his consistent (albeit underrated) performances for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Rising Pune Supergiant.
Tiwary is well past his prime and it is safe to say that he won't be appearing in the Indian colours anytime soon. However, a deserved IPL contract could make himself known to the cricketing fraternity once again.
#3 Robin Uthappa
After making his debut in the Indian team led by the controversial Greg Chappell, Uthappa played in the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2007 ODI World Cup. Since then, however, he hasn't been a regular for the country despite his immense potential and consistent domestic performances.
After some technical issues were ironed out by his coach Pravin Amre, Uthappa blew the IPL away, with mountains of runs for KKR in their title-winning campaigns. With the IPL often considered to be a benchmark for Indian selection, the case of the classy right-handed batsman is definitely an outlier.
Uthappa is now 34 years old, and has shifted home from Karnataka to Saurashtra and now Kerala in the Indian domestic circuit. He can take heart from Ashish Nehra's T20I comeback after spectacular IPL performances, and look to return to the national side after excelling in the world's premier T20 tournament.
#2 Parthiv Patel
Parthiv Patel made his debut for India as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, before the debuts of MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik. But after a few failures, he found himself out of the team as selectors favoured the long-haired destructive wicket-keeper.
Since then, he has been a colossus in domestic competitions, and led his state Gujarat to the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy, even scoring 143 in historic fourth-innings chase. After this Wriddhiman Saha suffered an injury, Parthiv was called up to the Test team in England and although he scored a fifty, he found himself on the fringes of the side once again.
Parthiv himself has stated that he should not be considered unlucky to be born in the same era as MS Dhoni, as he got his opportunity and didn't take it. While this may be true, he is certainly unlucky to have not got more chances in the previous decade as a specialist batsman at least.
#1 Pankaj Singh
In India's tour of England in 2014 that is majorly remembered for Virat Kohli's nightmare series, Pankaj Singh was offered a chance as a replacement for the injured Ishant Sharma - a chance that was the fruit of years of toil in first-class cricket. However, it just wasn't to be for the burly pacer.
Dropped catches and shocking umpiring decisions ensured that the Rajasthan fast bowler didn't pick up any wickets on debut, and he went on to play only one more Test match before falling off the selectors' radar.
In 2018, Pankaj Singh became the first quick to pick up 400 wickets in the Ranji Trophy, a feat that has since been equalled by Karnataka's Vinay Kumar. He will go down as one of the unluckiest cricketers to have ever played for India.