The Great Indian Odyssey

Highest Impact ODI Players from India



Continuing in our series of pieces on each country’s ODI history, we come home. From 1974 to 2012 (before the start of the current series in Sri Lanka), India played 804 matches and won 397 with a win loss ratio of 1.08. Their highest score is 418, lowest 54. They won the World Cup twice, in 1983 and 2011 and finished as runners-up in 2003.

We present three lists – of players, batsmen and bowlers. The minimum qualification to be on these lists is to have played 75 matches. A match is considered in this system only when there is a result, and if the player has bowled or batted, as the case may be.

Here are the highest impact ODI players in India’s history.



A first look at the list actually formulates the major problem Indian cricket has faced for a while now—the lack of a quality all-rounder. Out of the 20 players present on this list, only 4 qualify as proper all-rounders (Yuvraj Singh barely makes it as a genuine all-rounder).  The rest of the list is evenly spread out with 8 batsmen and 8 bowlers featuring in it.

India’s recent dominance as a one-day unit (barring the last few series losses) can also be attributed to the fact that as many as 9 players from the present playing generation feature on this list.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been the face of Indian cricket for a while now and it is not that surprising that he is the highest impact ODI player of all-time for India. His individual pointers actually point to his overall greatness as an ODI player. When it comes to batting, Dhoni has the 7th highest batting impact for an Indian and more importantly has 5 SDs in his career which is also the second highest for a wicket-keeper batsman in the world after Adam Gilchrist and Kumar Sangakarra (both have 6 each). Even when it comes to his captaincy, he has been India’s highest impact captain, ahead of the likes of Azharuddin, Kapil Dev and Ganguly. Although wicket-keepers have generally low failure rates (due to the flat impact they register for doing a set job), Dhoni’s failure rate of 15% is only the second lowest in the world (after Gilchrist).

Kapil Dev
, the best all-rounder India has seen in its history of ODI cricket comes in at the second spot. Those debating about his position being higher than that of Tendulkar’s should have a look at the last column. His failure rate is the fourth lowest (for a non-wicket-keeping all-rounder) in the world and when you couple that with his 5 SDs, they all form the archetype of a true champion. Being a World-Cup-winning captain didn’t hurt him either.

Sachin Tendulkar
comes in at the third spot and is easily India’s highest impact batsman of all time. His tally of 10 SDs is the third highest in the world (after Jayasuriya and Akram) and goes on to prove his legacy in the ODI format to a great extent. He also happens to be the third highest impact batsman of the world behind all-time greats Viv Richards and Dean Jones, and the highest impact ODI batsman of his generation by a distance.  Despite not being on top of any of the individual batting parameters, he registers such a high impact by dint of big individual performances. Even in terms of consistency (which is ordinarily associated with him), he has a relatively poor failure rate of 44% in comparison to the rest of the batting greats of ODI cricket. (He is actually 20th on the list).

It is also good to see that so many bits and pieces players of India who were never given the credit they actually deserved come up so high on this list. Ravi Shastri (4th), Mohinder Amarnath (6th) and Manoj Prabhakar (8th) were all no doubt highly respected players in the Indian ODI arena but never before had they been included in the same league as of that of the Tendulkars, the Dravids and the Gangulys.

Manoj Prabhakar
, who at one point of time used to open for India, both with the bat and the ball, narrowly misses the cut of being an all-rounder (just 0.12 away from an IMPACT of 1 as a batsman) but makes it to the list as a highly effective bowler and on the basis of his singular SD and a comparatively low failure rate of 28%.

Irfan Pathan’s presence at the 5th position maybe a bit of a shock to some but his Career Bowling IMPACT of 1.98 is actually the third highest on this list and his Wickets Tally IMPACT (proportion of wickets taken in a match) the highest for an Indian bowler.  His ability to strike with the bat also makes him a serious contender for the all-rounder’s spot for India especially at a time when India are desperately looking for one.

Virat Kohli’s presence in the list as the only new-generation player to make it here is even more keenly underlined in the list below.



These are the highest impact ODI batsmen in India’s history.



Sachin Tendulkar’s presence at the top is again expected; his 9 SDs as a batsman is also the highest by a batsman in the history of ODI cricket. However, it is also highly interesting to note that Tendulkar doesn’t top any of the individual batting parameters for India even though he has a prominent contribution in each one of them.

The major reason why Tendulkar doesn’t top any of the lists is because of the dazzling emergence of Virat Kohli onto the international scene. Since his debut, Kohli has quite literally set the international arena on fire and his impact numbers also point towards the same. In his 85-match career so far, Kohli has emerged as the second-highest impact batsman for India. Even when it comes to all the individual batting parameters (except Strike Rate IMPACT), Kohli emerges as the highest impact Indian batsman in all of them. In fact, Kohli’s Chasing IMPACT is the best in the world and is almost 40% better than the next batsman (Martin Crowe) on the world list – mind-boggling in an overall context. If he maintains this level of ascendancy in this format, he will soon be its highest impact batsman.

Gautam Gambhir’s sustained performances at the top have not got the attention they deserve; his role in India’s current status as World Cup champions is huge. It is remarkable that on a list of best Indian batsmen who have chased under pressure, both Kohli and Gambhir top the list comprehensively.

Dhoni’s status as India’s best finisher in its history is well-deserved – he has stayed not out in almost a third of the innings he has batted in during a chase (32) – a sensational proportion. But the interesting thing is that Kohli and Gambhir, with their tallies of just 8 and 10 not outs, produced such a high impact during those performances that they are actually ahead of Dhoni even when it comes to Finishing IMPACT.

Sourav Ganguly
’s presence at the third spot is not a matter of great surprise (except for the fact that Kohli leapfrogs him to the number 2 spot). Ganguly, during his playing days was highly instrumental along with Sachin Tendulkar in providing solid, positive starts to the Indian innings upfront and had a major role in shaping India’s ODI dominance —both as a batsman and as a captain. Moreover, his tally of 2 SDs as a batsman is also the second-highest (joint) by an Indian opener in ODI cricket.

Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mohammed Azharuddin come in at the 4th and the 5th position respectively. Azharuddin’s 5 SDs as a batsman makes him a stand-out big match performer while Sidhu’s low failure rate shows that he was one of India’s most consistent batsmen (2nd highest) of all time.

Even though Rahul Dravid was initially considered as a cast-off in the limited overs format due to his inability to score at a fast pace, his talent to form partnerships (Partnership Building IMPACT) in the middle overs and to stave off pressure (Pressure IMPACT) puts him on this list – both qualities that make him India’s highest impact Test batsmen too.

Virender Sehwag’s presence at number 10 may come as a shock to many but the fact of the matter is that even though he is the third highest strike rate impact batsman in the world, his failure rate of 52% has been a consistent let-down for him and his team. Surprisingly, he is also the only Indian batsman on this list without a SD – a significant fact when it comes to recounting his place in India’s ODI history.
A surprising presence on this list is the one that of Vinod Kambli. His batting prowess and his 3 SDs as a batsman (third-highest for an Indian) suggests a batsman of considerable potential but it was his inconsistency as a batsman (56% failure rate) which eventually (unfortunately) got the better of him.

Note: Some notable exceptions on the batting list are Yuvraj Singh (high failure rate), Kris Srikkanth and Suresh Raina (no SDs).

Yuvraj Singh in fact, just misses the cut and comes in at the 11th position with a Batting IMPACT of 1.61. Even though Yuvraj has 2 SDs as a batsman in the ODI format, it is his inconsistency (56 % failure rate) that has been a major source of worry for him and his team throughout his career.
The stories that unfold on various batting parameters are revealing.

When it comes to Runs Tally IMPACT (proportion of match runs made through career), the highest impact batsmen are Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly

The highest Strike Rate IMPACT batsmen (highest strike rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Virender Sehwag, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar.

The best Pressure IMPACT batsmen (those who absorbed the most pressure that came about due to fall of wickets) are Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Azharuddin.

The batsmen with the highest Partnership Building IMPACT (who built the most partnerships in the middle) are Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

The best Chasing IMPACT batsmen (who registered the highest impact while chasing a target) are Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir and (interestingly) Sunil Gavaskar.

The batsmen with the lowest failure rates (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Virat Kohli, Navjot Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar.

The Highest Impact Batting Performances in India’s ODI history (Series/tournament context):

1. M Azharuddin – 90 off 118 v South Africa, Calcutta, 1993 – Batting IMPACT 7.99
After being reduced t0 18-3 in the first six overs, the Indian innings got its much needed boost through Azharuddin’s blistering counter attack against a dominant South African bowling attack in this Hero Cup semi-final encounter. Even though India posted only 195 runs on board (with Azharuddin scoring 46% of it) it proved to be enough for them to seal the deal against the South Africans.

2. SR Tendulkar –117 not out off 120 v Australia, Sydney, 2008 – Batting IMPACT 7.70
Though chasing in crunch situations has never been Sachin Tendulkar’s forte, this particular innings will undoubtedly go down as one of his best while chasing (other than the Sharjah one) for India’s cause. With India struggling at 87-3 chasing 240 against a disciplined Aussie bowling attack, Tendulkar not only held and scored from one end but also guided a young Rohit Sharma on the other. His contribution led to India winning the 1st CB series final and eventually the series.

3. SR Tendulkar – 95 off 78 v Pakistan, Dhaka, 1998 – Batting IMPACT 7.43
In this 1st final of the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup at Dhaka, Pakistan after electing to bat first managed to post a competitive total of 212 runs in a fog reduced 46 overs match. India in reply, rolled off to a blazing start with Tendulkar being the main initiator. He was supported well by Ganguly on the other end and by the time Tendulkar was dismissed, India had already amassed 159 runs in 25 overs and needed only a further 54 runs to win off 21 overs. Undoubtedly, one of Tendulkar’s most unheralded ODI innings.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. The highest impact batting performance within a match context in Indian ODI history is Virat Kohli’s unbeaten knock of 79 off 104 against West Indies (Johannesburg, 2009). Chasing 130 in this Champions Trophy encounter, Kohli controlled the Indian chase after they had initially collapsed to 12-2 and in the process also notched up India’s only win of the tournament.  Virender Sehwag’s unbeaten 99 off 100 v Sri Lanka (Dambulla, 2010) and  his 110 off 93 v New Zealand (Dambulla, 2010) are the next highest impact innings within a match context.

Note: Sachin Tendulkar’s iconic knock of 134 off 131 v Australia (Sharjah, 1998) – Batting IMPACT 6.97, just misses the cut and comes in at the 4th position for the highest batting impact performance in a series context. Similarly, Kapil Dev’s innings of 175 not out off 138 balls v Zimbabwe (Tunbridge Wells, 1983) also doesn’t count amongst the highest impact performances in India’s ODI history because it came against a weak opponent. (Before this match, Zimbabwe had played only 4 ODIs, out of which they had lost 3 and won only 1).



These are the highest impact bowlers in India’s ODI history.



India’s only Achilles heel when it came to ODIs was their lack of a quality bowling unit, a problem to which they till date haven’t been able to find a solution to. Even though Anil Kumble tops the list here as the highest impact Indian bowler, he ranks 30th on the world bowling charts.

Although Anil Kumble wasn’t the same force to reckon with in the ODI format as compared to the longer format of the game, he still emerges as India’s highest impact ODI bowler. His 4 SDs as a bowler is also the highest by any Indian bowler and explains his billing as a big match player for India.

Javagal Srinath’s presence at no. 2 on this list shouldn’t be much of a surprise as he is by far India’s best pace bowler in the ODI format. During his heyday, Srinath with his pace and accuracy could run through most opposition batting line -ups. Even on days when he could not, he had enough guile and sharpness to give steady performances for his team and it is this very ability which made him the most consistent bowler (failure rate of only 32%) in India’s ODI history.

Zaheer Khan coming in at no.9 may be a bit surprising but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t even have a single SD (interestingly) as a bowler even though his consistency is pretty high. In fact, he is India’s second most consistent bowler after Srinath in their ODI history.

Even though they were highly expensive (Negative Economy Rate IMPACT), both Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan’s propensity to take wickets (high Wickets IMPACT) puts them on this list.

Harbhajan Singh and Kapil Dev’s restrictive ability (High Economy IMPACT) along with their 3 SDs (as bowlers) respectively, puts them on this list.

Interestingly, Ravi Shastri is only the second all- rounder (after Kapil Dev) on this list and makes it through primarily due to his singular SD.

NOTE: If the cut-off is lowered to 50 matches (from 75), Madan Lal (2.10) becomes the highest impact bowler for India in their history of ODI cricket – and not just because of his performance in the 1983 World Cup final. Maninder Singh (1.86) and Praveen Kumar (1.86) then emerge as the 9th and the 10th highest impact bowlers in India’s history of ODI cricket, respectively.

The highest impact players in all bowling parameters are quite revealing.

When it comes to Top/Middle-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (wickets taken from nos. 1-7 in most cases), the highest impact bowlers are Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar and Javagal Srinath.

Lower-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (batsmen nos. 8-11) – highest impact bowlers are Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra.

The highest Economy IMPACT bowlers (lowest economy rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.

The highest impact Partnership-breaking bowlers are Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Ravi Shastri.

The bowlers with the highest Pressure Building IMPACT (taking quick wickets to put opposition under pressure) are Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra.

The bowlers with the lowest failure rate (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble.


The Highest Impact Bowling Performances in India’s ODI history (Series/ Tournament Context):

1. A Kumble – 6 for 12 in 6.1 overs v West Indies, Calcutta, 1993 – Bowling IMPACT 7.31
Chasing 226, West Indies were at 101-4 on a sluggish track before Anil Kumble put them out of their misery with a six-wicket haul. Kumble accounted for the last 6 West Indian wickets within a space of 26 balls and in the process conceded only 4 runs. His overall figures of 6-12 till date remains the best individual performance by an Indian bowler.

2. P Kumar – 4 for 46 in 10 overs v Australia, Brisbane, 2008 – Bowling IMPACT 5.47
Chasing 259, Australia were jolted early by Praveen Kumar’s triple strike and were reduced to 32-3 in the first 9 overs. They never really recovered from that position and even though Michael Hussey and James Hopes led a spirited fight-back, Kumar had done enough to seal the series in India’s favour which till date remains their only ODI series win in Australia.

3. ND Hirwani – 4 for 46 in 10 overs v New Zealand, Sharjah, 1988– Bowling IMPACT 5.43
New Zealand, chasing 251 were ambling towards their target at 92-2 when Hirwani was brought into the attack. His leg-spinners initially stifled the New Zealand scoring rate before wickets became a by-product of the same. By the time Hirwani had finished his spell, New Zealand had collapsed from 92-2 to 113-6 and India had more or less sealed the Sharjah Cup in their favour.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. When it comes to a match context, Ashish Nehra’s 6-23 v England (Durban, 2003) registers as the highest impact bowling performance in the history of Indian ODI cricket. Murali Kartik’s 6-27 v Australia (Mumbai, 2007) and Sourav Ganguly’s 5-16 v Pakistan (Toronto, 1997) are the second and the third highest impact bowling performances in a match context, respectively.

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