India has never possessed a ‘great’ bowling attack although there have been bowlers such as Kapil Dev, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Anil Kumble who have lit up Test cricket with consistently good performances for the country. Oppositions have looked to take advantage of this, and some batsmen have proven to be a roadblock in India’s path to winning more Tests perhaps, then that what they have won already.
Here are the 10 of those batsmen who have made a maximum impact against the team.
1) Ricky Ponting (Australia) – 2411 runs
Ricky Ponting has scored his second hundred of the ongoing series at home against India. If Sachin Tendulkar has had a prolific run against Australia throughout his career, Ricky Ponting has done the same against India. This was his eighth Test ton against the same nation who had borne the brunt of his 140 in the 2003 World Cup final.
It is a misconception that Ponting has struggled to score with India as opposition, as he naturally does against other teams. This is because he has had a tough time in Indian conditions with bowlers like Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma getting him out several times. But this was until 2008 when he hit a century at Bangalore in the first Test of the series, finishing eventually with 264 runs in 7 innings. While in 2010, he hit three scores in the 70s in 4 innings, with his average above 50 in the 2 match series.
While in Australia, Ponting has flourished against an attack which has usually not been menacing in those conditions. In 1999, he scored two hundreds in three Tests with both being match-winning efforts. Four years later, he bettered those performances by hitting 242 at Adelaide and 257 at Melbourne, in consecutive Tests. 2007 was poor for him although he ended the series in style, scoring 140 at incidentally the Adelaide Oval where Ponting has four tons already against India.
He now averages 52.41 against India, close to his career average and it goes to show his stature as a modern day batting great.
2) Clive Lloyd (West Indies) – 2344 runs
The other 2-time World Cup winning skipper features in this list as well. Lloyd may have led the side extremely well in the 70s and 80s, and their dominance extended to that team as well which beat them in the 1983 World Cup final with the chief architect of destruction being Lloyd.
He has 2344 runs in 28 Tests against India in his 17 year old career, averaging an astonishing 58.60 and a highest score of 242 not out in Mumbai in January 1975. He has seven centuries against them, only one behind Ponting. His consistent success against India made life much easier at times, for the deadly Caribbean pace battery to get the Indian batsmen out, who must have been always demoralized on the field.
3) Javed Miandad (Pakistan) – 2228 runs
This man will never be forgiven by Indian fans for his last-ball six in the Sharjah final of 1986 against India. But that is not the sole damage he has caused to the nation. Even in Test cricket, he has had a huge impact, so much so that out of his 8332 runs, 2228 of them have come against India having played close to two decades of international cricket.
He reveled amidst the pressure in an India-Pakistan match due to the rivalry involved in terms of politics and other issues as well, extending onto the cricket fielder. His highest Test score is 280 not out which came against India in Hyderabad (Pakistan), in January 1983. He could have gone on to score a triple century, but Imran Khan the then skipper bravely declared. However, the team man that Miandad was did not create a fuss about it atleast in the public as what was more important was Pakistan’s victory which they achieved in the end.
He averages as high as 67.51 with five hundreds and a world record fourteen fifties to his name.
4) Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies) – 2038 runs
Chanderpaul has always batted under the shadow of Brian Lara for the majority of his career. However, come a match against India and his performances have been too stupendous to be noticed. Indian fans may not realize his value in scoring heavily against them as long as Lara was batting at the other end or India went on to win the match. But Chanders has enjoyed himself against any Indian attack he has played till date.
He has featured in 23 Tests against India and belongs to the rare crop of batsmen who are on this coveted list and still playing Test cricket, Ponting being another example. He averages 65.54 with seven hundreds to his name, his top score being 140 in his hometown Guyana in the 2002 series.
In 2011 which is more recent, West Indies played India in three Tests at home and in the final Test at Roseau, Chanderpaul hit an unbeaten match-saving hundred to ensure that his team does not lose again and India wins by 1-0 instead of the likely 2-0. While in the return trip to India a few months later, it was in the first Test in Delhi that he scored 118 in the first innings to give West Indies a shock lead, and a genuine chance for the team to perform a rare feat, winning a Test in India. Eventually, this did not happen with the team being mentally and skillfully unprepared to face an Indian backlash.
5) Sir Vivian Richards (West Indies) – 1927 runs
Add another West Indian batsman in this list. How can Richards miss out after all? One of the legendary batsmen of all time and not just in his era, Richards bludgeoned what was to him a lollypop Indian attack and alongside Lloyd, his runs counted the most for the side in the 28 Tests he played against India from the period of 1974-1989.
He averaged just above 50, with his best score being 192 not out in Delhi in December 1974. Though it is a bit fascinating to know that he has not been able to ever score a double ton against India, but the impact he had on them can never be counted out. As he hit seven fifties and eight hundreds, which is a world record of the highest number of Test tons against India of all-time, but he shares it with fellow West Indian Sir Gary Sobers and Ricky Ponting.
6) Sir Gary Sobers (West Indies) – 1920 runs
Sobers is the last of the parade of Caribbean batsmen to appear in this list. In his playing days, he left no stone unturned in trying to smash the Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground, when he took guard against them. He was the pioneer when it came to having repeated successes against India throughout his career, and with a strong batting line-up to support him he continued to plunder more and more runs.
Unluckily, he only featured in 18 Tests against India in a 13 year career which explains why he is not in the top 3 of this list, as he also averages a mesmerizing 83.47 with eight hundreds and seven fifties. His top score vs. the opposition was 198 in Kanpur in December 1958, in what was only the second Test of his career.
7) Matthew Hayden (Australia) – 1888 runs
Hayden may have played his first series against India in March 2001, but in a period of seven years he was extremely accountable of negating the challenge India would pose under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly and other captains to follow, with a potentially champion team developing.
His first ton was in his very first Test innings against India at Mumbai when he hit 119 to rescue Australia from a tricky position of 99/5 to end up with 349 all out. Australia won the Test but went to lose the series despite a lone hand 203 from him in Chennai in the final Test of the series. Hayden was the highest run-getter in those 3 Tests with 549 runs, and played the menacing Harbhajan Singh the best out of all the Aussie batsmen.
4 of his 6 centuries against them have come in Australia, with his record in India being average after the 2001 series. He hit one in 2003 in Melbourne, which alongside Ponting’s 257 was instrumental in Australia winning by 9 wickets and leveling the series 1-1. While 3 of them came four years later, with his 124 at Melbourne (yet again!) and 123 at Sydney being match-winning knocks while his 103 at Adelaide resulted in a drawn game which was enough for Australia to win the series 2-1.
Hayden has hit 1888 runs in 18 Tests at an average of 59 against India throughout his Test career.
8) Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) – 1822 runs
Currently the numero uno Sri Lankan batsman in all three formats of the game, Jayawardene has not certainly missed out India in the process of becoming so. In fact, he has benefitted him and his team so much that his efforts have resulted in India not winning a single Test series in Sri Lanka from the period of 2001-2010.
He has been the king of batting in home conditions and the Indians, although having a usually potent spin attack have struggled to curb his run making. He has scored 4 of his 6 tons against India at one ground itself, the SSC at Colombo with 2 of them contributing in victories for the Lankans. The other two have come in Kandy in 2001, which went in vain and in Ahmedabad in 2009, where he hit a magnum opus 275 to help Sri Lanka draw the match on a placid Motera pitch in the end.
The 275 has been his best effort against India so far, with his 1822 runs coming in 18 Tests at an impressive average of 67.48.
9) Zaheer Abbas (Pakistan) – 1740 runs
When Abbas and Miandad batted together, it spelt trouble for any bowling attack. It was no different when it came to playing India, and it actually was an incentive for Abbas too to hit hard as Pakistan has always shown an inspired bit of unity when playing India which is rarely seen in the team, because the passion to play and win grows deeper.
Abbas in his 6-year career played as many as 19 Tests against India and averaged the highest amongst this bunch of great batsmen, 87. He has scored six centuries, with his top score being 235 not out in Lahore in October 1978 in only his second Test match. Perhaps batsmen such as Sobers and Abbas used India to build a platform for their great Test careers!
10) Graham Gooch (England) – 1725 runs
England may have produced ‘great’ batsmen in Test cricket, but not that great enough to be considered as batsmen who have destroyed opposition bowlers. Having said that, Gooch may be deserving to be on this list for he was one of England’s finest batters ever and more importantly, he had the most success against India in the 19 Tests he played from the period of 1979 to 1993.
His top score against India was the colossal 333 at the ‘Home of Cricket’, Lords in 1990 in the first Test of the 3-match series, where he made full use of Mohammad Azharuddin’s dubious decision to bowl first. England went on to massacre India, declaring at 653 for 4 in the first innings. India narrowly the follow-on which prompted Gooch to hit a 123 in the second innings to ensure that England win by 247 runs, and not draw the game.
He hit four more centuries against India at an average of 53.55.