In India, the game of cricket is considered almost a religion! After an underdog India clinched the World Cup trophy in 1983, this nation has been ruling over this sport since then, in performance and popularity. It is extremely tough to choose any 10 among the hundreds of epic batting innings India have produced ever. Still, I have attempted here to present such a list containing Indian cricketers who represented the national team post-2000 (and some, before that too).
1) SACHIN TENDULKAR 200 vs South Africa, Gwalior (2010)
As the dimensions of the cricket ground at the Captain Roop Singh stadium was lower than the natural Indian standards, fans thought Virender Sehwag, the demolishing Indian opener would love to hit a big score here, but it was Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, who utilized the condition, and went on to score the first ever double century in international limited over format. The scoreboard read 200 not out off 147 balls for Sachin, while India posted a steep target of 402, leading to a big win over South Africa.
2) SOURAV GANGULY 183* vs Sri Lanka, Taunton (1999)
After losing two group matches against South Africa and Zimbabwe, India were desperate to win some to qualify for the next round of 1999 World Cup. The opportunity came in the very next match versus Sri Lanka, where the skipper Sourav Ganguly built a record 318 run partnership with Rahul Dravid, with himself scoring a blinder 183 off 158 balls. India won the match by 157 runs, secured their hope of qualification and eventually went on the play final against Australia.
3) RAHUL DRAVID 270 vs Pakistan, Rawalpindi (2004)
Virender Sehwag’s 309 in Multan test set the notion of a batsman-dominated India-Pakistan Test series in 2004, but Pakistan came back strong and leveled the series 1-1 with the decider left at Rawalpindi. Rahul Dravid, the no. 3 batsman came to the pitch at the very second ball of the innings, and stayed for 740 long minutes to help India reach 593 before his fall as the 9th wicket. He had no problem in smashing the Pak bowlers to score 270 odd runs with 34 boundaries and 1 six. India won the match with an innings and 131 runs to take the trophy home.
4) VIRENDER SEHWAG 125 vs New Zealand, Hamilton (2009)
It was an India-New Zealand one day match which was bullied by a storm, to be honest, two storms – one, which reduced the overs, and one who stunned the opposition with his power-hitting. Batting first, New Zealand put on 270 off 47 overs, but as rain was hitting frequently, the concerns raised about a hike in the required run rate which India had to chase, due to reduction in overs as per the Duckworth-Lewis rule. Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir decided to get as much big score as possible until the game is halted by another spell of shower, and the former took the charge, scoring a century off just 60 balls, ending at 125 not out of 74 balls, with 14 fours and 6 sixes. India was at 201/0 in just 23.3 overs, when the game had to be stopped permanently for the day, but as India was ahead of D/L par of 83 runs, they were decided the winner.
5) VVS LAXMAN 73* vs Australia, Mohali (2010)
India was chasing a mere 216 in the 4th innings, but it’s always hard to score runs in the final innings on a pacer-friendly Mohali wicket. India was tottering at 124/8 one stage, with only VVS remaining at the crease as a specialist batsman. As always, a second innings Laxman had been dangerous for the Aussies, here too he started building a partnership with tail-ender Ishant Sharma. Both kept on rotating singles, and put a partnership of 81 runs off just 130 balls. As Ishant fell for 31 with 11 runs remaining for the victory with last wicket in hand, ‘Very Very Special’ Laxman was facing 4-5 deliveries each over and allowing an inexperienced Pragyan Ojha to face the remaining, so that he can get the strike back next over. Ojha almost created a chance of run out, but Laxman kept his cool and went on the score the winning runs. His unbeaten 73 runs were most crucial in this hard-fought victory.
6) YUVRAJ SINGH 58 vs England, Durban (2007)
No one can forget this onslaught by an angry young Punjabi, Yuvraj Singh, on a young Briton pacer, Stuart Broad, who came to bowl after a heated conversation between Yuvi and Andrew Flintoff. A fierce Yuvraj kept on swinging the bat for all the next six balls, and recorded the only ‘6 sixes in an over’ in T20 international cricket! He scored 58 runs in just 14 balls, taking India to 218/4 in 20 overs, before winning the World Cup Group Stage game by 18 runs.
7) GAUTAM GAMBHIR 137 vs New Zealand, Napier (2009)
On way of India’s limp to the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, the second Test between India and New Zealand was one of the very significant games, that proved why India deserved that position. Following on with a 314-run trail on head in the second innings, India had no option but to somehow bat through two full days continuously to save the Test. The Delhi left-hander led the troops with scoring a patient, resilient 137 runs off 436 deliveries! Charge of good Kiwi pace bowling display could not dismantle his defense till the final session of the Test match. Later, Laxman and Yuvraj made it sure that India draw this Test.
8) MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI 45* vs Sri Lanka, Port of Spain (2013)
It was the India-Sri lanka-West Indies tri-nation series final match between India and Sri Lanka, where the bowlers from both the teams were feeling the charm of heaven. Sri lanka were all out for 201, but India could not take advantage of such a low target, and faltered to 182/9 at one stage. Indian skipper MS Dhoni managed to take the game to the last over, in partnership with Ishant Sharma, but the target was 15 runs from it. Dhoni missed to hit the first delivery, but then hit a big six, followed by a four and finally another long six to finish the game for India! It was one the Dhoni’s best finishes ever in One Dayers.
9) VIRAT KOHLI 183* vs Pakistan, Mirpur (2012)
It was another epic India-Pakistan game in the 2012 Asia Cup league stage, where Virat Kohli stole the limelight away, announcing the entry of a new, modified, beast run-machine, who would later carry on Indian batting just like what Sachin Tendulkar had done till 2013. India was 0/1 chasing a high target of 330 against the arch-rivals, when Virat came and played flamboyant shots all around the ground. Pak bowlers could not find an answer to his aggression, and Kohli took advantage of their nervous display to score a tremendous knock of 183 unbeaten in 148 balls, helping his team chase the target successfully with 13 balls to spare.
10) ROHIT SHARMA 264 vs Sri Lanka, Kolkata (2014)
MS Dhoni was suspended due to slow over rate in previous games, so Virat Kohli led Indian team at Eden Gardens, against a young Sri Lankan team. Before this match, who knew that this Mumbaikar opener would break multiple batting records in this very match? Rohit ‘Hitman’ Sharma started slow, scored 50 in 72 balls, then raised his speed to reach the hundred in 100 balls. Then followed massive destruction of the Lankan bowlers by Rohit’s bat, while he scored next 100 runs in just 50 balls, to reach an ODI double hundred second time as the only batsman in the world! He did not stop there, carried on humiliating the opponents, and reached world record 264 runs, with 33 fours and 9 sixes aside his name. The whole Sri Lanka could manage just 251 runs in reply, and as Twitterattis explained – ‘Sri Lanka lost to Rohit Sharma by 13 runs!’