India cricket legends: From Kapil Dev's brilliance to Virat Kohli's flamboyance

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 10:59 26/05/2019
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Kohli will want to preserve India's stronghold at home.

With the 2019 World Cup about to start, we take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the iconic players to have defined eras and earned the title of legends.

From Kapil Dev to Virat Kohli, Sir Viv Richards to Andre Russell and Allan Border to David Warner, the cricketing world has seen some special players create history, raise the bar and then pass the torch to the next superstar.

As we build up to the World Cup, we celebrate those flag-bearers of greatness. Here, we have picked four players from India who have left their mark.

Click here for Australia, Pakistan, England and West Indies.

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Kapil Dev [1978-1994]

The greatest and most decorated all-rounder in Indian history, Kapil Dev holds a special place in the hearts of all Indian fans. The all-rounder led India to its first World Cup title in 1983, playing a crucial role in the process.

He was the leading run-getter for India and fifth overall. The carnage with the bat accompanied some fierce bowling, as he managed to pick up 12 wickets in the tournament.

Known for his lethal out-swinging deliveries and gutsy cameos with the bat in the lower middle-order, Kapil gave the entire subcontinent belief at the world stage. In 1994, he retired as Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker.

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1983 World Cup

Batting stats

Matches: 8

Innings: 8

Runs: 303

Average: 60.6

Highest: 175

Bowling stats

Wickets: 12

Economy rate: 2.91

Best: 5/43

Iconic World Cup innings: 175* v Zimbabwe (1983) 

In a must-win game in the 1983 World Cup, India were reeling at 17-5, having lost openers Sunil Gavaskar and K Srikkanth for ducks. Dev stepped in to hit one of the best innings in a World Cup game, smashing 175 runs from just 138 balls. This helped India register a total of 266, which they defended, thanks to a solid bowling performance by Madan Lal and Roger Binny.

Sachin Tendulkar [1989-2013]

“Master Blaster” Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers of all time, if not the best ever. Until 2011, a World Cup was the only missing feather in his glorious cap.

India came close in the 2003 World Cup, with Tendulkar playing a key role with the bat. But Ricky Ponting’s iconic Australian side brushed India aside in the final to defend their title. The Mumbaikar was the Man of the Tournament but the trophy he yearned was beyond his reach.

In 2011, Tendulkar was once again the leading run-getter for India and this time his team ensured the master finally got to lift the coveted trophy.

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2003 World Cup

Matches: 11

Runs: 673

Average: 61.18

50s/100s: 5/1

Best: 152

Iconic World Cup innings: 98 v Pakistan (2003)

The stage was set at Centurion for one of the biggest encounters in world cricket – India locking horns with Pakistan in a World Cup tie. Tasked to chase 274, India got off to a solid start and a tremendous innings from Tendulkar ensured that they got the better of their rivals in the group stage game. The opener fell just short of a deserved century but with 12 fours and one six en route to his 98, he led India’s run-chase in style.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni [2004-present]

“Captain Cool” will go down as one of the best captains in India’s history. The ever calm and composed wicket-keeper batsman led India to World Cup glory in 2011 at home, thus ending a 28-year wait for the biggest trophy in cricket.

Known for his composed approach in the face of adversity, lightning quick gloves and power-packed hitting, Dhoni is among the World Cup’s elites.

In the 2019 World Cup, Dhoni will play under captain Virat Kohli, symbolising the passing of the torch as he continues to pull strings from behind the stumps.

2011 World Cup

Matches: 9

Runs: 241

Average: 48.2

Highest: 91*

Catches: 7

Stumpings: 4

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Iconic World Cup innings: 91* against Sri Lanka (final, 2011)

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. India did not get to the best of starts while chasing Sri Lanka’s total of 274. Openers Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar were sent packing as India found themselves at 31-2. Dhoni promoted himself up the order, ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh in what later turned out to be a masterstroke. The skipper got to the crease at 114-3 and guided India to the summit with a captain’s knock of 91 runs from 79 balls.

Virat Kohli (2008-present)

On February 19, 2011, Kohli became the first Indian player to score a century on World Cup debut. This majestic performance against Bangladesh was followed by rather underwhelming ones, before he concluded with a crucial 35 (49) against Sri Lanka in the final, forming a steady partnership with Gautam Gambhir.

The aggressive top-order batsman has since established himself as the best of this generation. His 2015 World Cup campaign contained promise, but lacked content after he failed to top his century against Pakistan in the opener.

Kohli will now play his third World Cup and will have the weight of a billion expectations on his shoulders.

2011 & 2015 World Cup

Matches: 17

Runs: 587

Average: 41.93

50s: 1

100s: 2

Iconic World Cup innings: 107 v Pakistan (2015)

Yet again, India got the better of their rivals in a World Cup game thanks to a dominating performance from Kohli.

Kohli scored 107 runs from 126 balls to help his team reach a commanding total of 300 runs, which they had no problems defending.

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