Over the last four decades, Indian cricket has produced some great batsmen in ODI cricket. While natural stroke makers like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli became the mainstays of batting line-ups, power hitters like Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Kapil Dev changed the course of a game in a blink of an eye.
While Virender Sehwag pulled crowds with some mesmerizing shots, Mohammad Azharuddin was a treat to watch with those silken wrists.
Indian ODI teams have been batting heavy courtesy a plethora of world-class batsmen. Much of India’s success in ODI cricket has revolved around the batting exploits of these batsmen.
With a galaxy of batting stalwarts over the years, it would be interesting to compile a list of India’s most destructive stroke makers in ODI. This list involves those batsmen who have managed to score at a quick rate and put up big knocks.
Note: Batsmen who have scored more than 2000 ODI runs and a minimum strike rate of 85 have been considered in this list.
#9 Kapil Dev
Way back in the 80s when most batsmen adopted a conventional style of batting, Kapil Dev batted with a fearless attitude, scoring runs at a brisk pace.
Coming in to bat lower down the order, Kapil would essay some quick-fire cameos and help India put on fighting totals. The all-rounder was a good player of the hook shot and played the drive equally well while also stepping out occasionally to attack the spinners.
Kapil's standout ODI knock remains his unbeaten 175-runs against Zimbabwe which saved India from a premature exit at the 1983 World Cup. At 17/5 against Zimbabwe, India had their backs against the wall when Kapil's whirlwind knock saved India the blushes and helped them advance to the title clash.
Kapil Dev's ODI stats
Matches- 225; Runs- 3783; Avg- 23.79; SR- 95.07; 100s- 1
#8 Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina was what can be termed as a 'pocket dynamite' for India in the limited-overs arena. The hard-hitting left-hander is a destructive stroke-maker who would generally opt for an aggressive approach early on in his innings and favour the mid-wicket region.
The Uttar Pradesh-lad has often charged down the track to spinners, hitting them inside out for some lusty blows. Raina has played some blistering cameos to finish off games even from critical situation.
Raina has five ODI tons to his credit but his best knock till date remains the 75-ball 100 against England on a green top at Cardiff in 2014.
Suresh Raina's ODI stats
Matches- 226; Runs- 5615; Avg- 35.3; SR- 93.5; 100s- 5
#7 Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan has been one of India’s most explosive openers in ODI cricket. The Delhi-based cricketer has provided India with the aggression at the top of the order by dominating bowlers in the powerplay overs early on.
Dhawan is particularly strong on the offside and is a great exponent of the cut shot but is equally adept at peppering the boundaries even on the leg side. Dhawan has formed a lethal opening partnership with Rohit Sharma that has given the Indian side some stability at the top.
The southpaw has always made quite an impression in ICC tournaments, but his best knock so far in ODI cricket is the 115-ball 143 he scored against Australia in 2019. Dhawan brought up his century off 97 balls and shifted gears to eventually score his next 41 runs off just 18 balls.
Shikhar Dhawan's ODI stats
Matches- 136; Runs- 5688; Avg- 45.1; SR- 94.0; 100s- 17
#6 MS Dhoni
Once MS Dhoni decides to hang his boots, he will undoubtedly finish his career as one of India’s most clinical finishers in ODI cricket. With a keen understanding of situations, Dhoni has the ability to switch gears as and when needed and win games even from improbable situations.
Blessed with an ability to tonk the long ball, Dhoni has brought his match-winning skill to the fore on multiple occasions and has thrilled fans with his big-hitting. Dhoni has produced some memorable match-winning knocks down the order but his 183* against Sri Lanka at Jaipur was an exhibition of how destructive he could be with the willow.
MS Dhoni's ODI stats
Matches- 350; Runs- 10773; Avg- 50.6; SR- 87.6; 100s- 10
#5 Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh has been arguably one of India’s cleanest strikers in the LOIs. When on song, Yuvraj makes looks batting look effortless with his power hitting.
Blessed with sublime timing, the elegant left-hander has produced some breathtaking innings to win games for India at major tournaments. With a high backlift, Yuvraj packs a punch while hitting the ball on the rise. Yuvraj is known for playing those expansive cover drives and lofting spinners for massive sixes.
Yuvraj has always saved his best knocks for the big stage. As a teenager, he exploded on the international stage with an enthralling 84-run knock against Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy in Kenya.
Most notably, Yuvraj was named as the Man of the Tournament at the end of the 2011 World Cup in recognition of his all-round prowess in the competition.
Yuvraj Singh's ODI stats
Matches- 304; Runs- 8701; Avg- 36.56; SR- 87.68; 100s- 14
#4 Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma has been one of India's most consistent openers across formats. Gifted with a wide array of scoring shots, Rohit can decimate the best of bowlers with utter disdain.
Rohit has a penchant for scoring big hundreds and his three double ODI tons are testimony to the same. Sharma has good footwork and uses his feet well against spinners. The 'Hitman' of Indian cricket can be one of the most lethal customers with the willow when he gets his eye in.
Among Rohit's many breathtaking knocks in ODI cricket, his monumental 209-run innings against Australia at Bengaluru ranks as arguably one of the most destructive innings played in ODI cricket.
Rohit Sharma's ODI stats
Matches- 224; Runs- 9115; Avg- 49.3; SR- 88.9; 100s- 29
#3 Virat Kohli
India’s run-scoring machine Virat Kohli ranks as one of the most explosive batsmen in ODI cricket. Kohli has taken batting to another level with his consistent run-scoring ability in different conditions.
Kohli isn’t one of the modern-day power hitters but relies on his special ability to pierce the gaps to perfection. A master at pacing his innings, Kohli accumulates his runs and then tears into the opposition in the slog overs.
The Indian captain, who is known to have led his side to victories in some fine run-chases has shown time and again that he can grind the opposition by scoring match-winning centuries.
Kohli's ability to score the big match-winning ODI tons is no hidden secret. One of his finest innings with the willow came when he smashed 183 off just 148 balls against arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2012 Asia Cup at Dhaka.
Virat Kohli ODI's stats
Matches- 248; Runs- 11867; Average- 59.3; Strike Rate- 93.25; 100s- 43
#2 Sachin Tendulkar
India’s greatest ever batsman was also one of their most fluidic stroke makers in ODIs. Sachin Tendulkar earned the nickname ‘Master Blaster’ for his exploits with the willow. Sachin could plunder the best of bowlers with his top-quality shotmaking.
Sachin’s batting was a perfect blend of balance, sublime timing and exquisite footwork. He had the knack of picking the length early and dispatching even good deliveries for boundaries.
He was strong on both sides of the wickets and could play the cut, pull or drive with the same ease. His trademark shot was the straight drive.
Equally strong against pace and spin, Sachin scored runs at a brisk pace in ODIs. Once set, he had the penchant to score big hundreds. The Mumbaikar became India's batting lynchpin for more than a decade.
Out of the many glittering knocks Sachin produced in ODIs, his quick-fire 98 off just 75 balls against Pakistan in the semifinals of the 2003 ICC World Cup ranks as one his finest performances with the willow.
Sachin's back-to-back centuries against Australia in the Coca-Cola Cup at Sharjah were instrumental in India lifting the trophy.
Sachin Tendulkar's ODI stats
Matches- 463; Runs- 18426; Avg- 44.83; SR- 86.23; 100s- 49
#1 Virender Sehwag
Virender Sehwag was one of India's most dangerous batsmen, given his approach of taking on the bowlers right from the first ball. The right-hander had all the shots in the book to wreak havoc on the best of bowling attacks.
Sehwag formed successful opening combinations with both Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to provide India with some flying starts in ODIs. Sehwag had a very uncomplicated technique and relied on his superb hand-eye coordination for delivering the goods with the willow.
He didn't move his feet too much but picked up the length of the ball early. Sehwag became a nightmare for most bowling attacks and his mere presence at the crease sent shivers down the spines of the opposition.
Out of Sehwag's many whirlwind knocks, his double ton against the Windies where he smashed 219 off just 148 balls at Indore stands out as his most destructive ODI innings.
Virender Sehwag's ODI record
Matches- 251; Runs- 8273; Avg- 35.05; SR- 104.33; 100s- 15
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