With the evolution of cricket, the once considered ‘bits and pieces’ players are now an important commodity in the world of cricket. The term genuine all-rounder has eluded the Indian team ever since the beginning. In order to bring balance to the side, our board has been desperate to find all-rounder, after the retirement of the legend Kapil Dev and has tried a number of players. Let us have a look at the all-rounders who have played for the Indian team in the last 15 - 20 years.
Once thought to be the successor of Kapil Dev, Irfan Pathan was an integral part of Indian team back then. Well known for his Wasim Akram kind action and his ability to swing the ball both ways, Pathan shot to fame for his pinpoint bowling. It was just a matter of time before his hitting prowess came into the limelight. He has scored 1500+ runs, which includes 5 crucial half centuries, and took 173 wickets for India in the ODIs. In his test career, he has scored 1105 runs and took 100 wickets in tests.
The management's desperation to fill Kapil Dev’s shoes was the key reason for Pathan’s downfall. Then Indian coach Greg Chappell promoted him up the
batting order to No. 7, adversely affected his bowling leading him to crash out of the team. Since then he was never able to cement his place in the squad.
The spin maestro of Indian cricket, Ravichandran Ashwin is no more just a bowler now. With the passing time, Ashwin has become a handy batsman for The Indian team, which technically makes him an allrounder. Having scored two centuries in tests and a half-century in ODIs for India, Ashwin has proved his skill with bat and is striving hard to come back into the ODI squad. He has scored a staggering 2361 runs and has taken 342 wickets in tests for India, which makes him an indispensable part of the test squad.
The Golden Ball winner of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, Ravindra Jadeja is a genuine allrounder. A great batsman, a bowler with impeccable line and length and a prolific fielder, this is what Jadeja is. An asset to the team, he has always been his captains go to man. His test career boasts of 1485 runs and 192 wickets while his ODI career has 1990 runs with 171 wickets. The records only speak of his batting and bowling skills but don’t speak about the live wire he is on the field, saving more runs than he has scored. Although he is no more regular in the ODI squad never fails to impress on the odd occasion when he is in the squad, on the other hand, he his an integral part of the test squad, scoring crucial runs down the order and chipping in with handy wickets.
The star all-rounder of the Indian team, Hardik Pandya has come a long way to achieve what he is now. One of the many players who got a national call up
based on their IPL performances, Pandya unlike others went on to stick with the national team in the long term. His ability to hit those big shots even in the crunchiest of situations and his phenomenal development with the ball may just have given the Indian team the “fast bowling all-rounder” they have been longing for. In his short international career, Pandya has scored 670 runs and picked up 42 wickets in ODIs whereas in tests he has scored 532 runs and bagged 17 wickets. Except for his batting and bowling skills, Pandya is also an excellent fielder. There have been numerous instances when he has gone that extra mile, which no one else would do, to save runs for the team. Pandya has a long way to go with the Indian side and the improvement he has shown in the last few years cement the belief that he may very well fill the shoes of the great Kapil Dev.
Some of you may be surprised to read Bhuvneshwar’s name in the list of all-rounders. The star pacer of India is no more just a fast bowler instead he has
evolved to become an all-rounder. We all know how good he is at swinging the ball and his exquisite control on it but on only a few of you may be knowing his batting prowess. Although not a great hitter of the ball he has an exceptional talent to play as an anchor which only a very few lower order batsmen can do. He has scored 469 runs in 45 innings with a strike rate of 75.52 in ODIs while in tests he has scored 552 runs in 29 innings with a strike rate of 45.06. Barring his skills with the bat and ball, he is a gem of a fielder. His dedication in the field to save runs and his willingness to put his body on the line to do so is what makes him such a great fielder.
Expect the names mentioned above many more all-rounders cloud the skies of Indian cricket like Kedar Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar and many more. Although India has many of these all-rounders the toughest part is getting the balance right in the batting and bowling skills. Most of the all-rounders mentioned above are bowling all-rounders while it is still unclear whether Hardik is batting or bowling all-rounder. Hardik is the closest thing India has to a genuine all-rounder, but it will be too early to say that he is one of them. His hard work may very well propel him to his dream of becoming the Jacques Kallis of India and finally, end India’s long long wait for a genuine all-rounder.