The Ranji Trophy, India's premier domestic competition, is an annual affair that features several aspiring cricketers dreaming of donning the Indian jersey.
This competition, along with the Irani Cup and Duleep Trophy, comprises the first-class scene in India, and is the platform where India hopefuls display their wares. A player performing reasonably well in first-class cricket is invariably called up to represent the Indian national team.
In this article, we bring to you ten Indian players who have scored the most runs in first-class cricket.
Although no current player finds a mention, Cheteshwar Pujara, the number three batsman in the Indian Test team, narrowly misses the bus. Additionally, KP Ranjitshinji, the player after whom the Ranji Trophy is named, is not included in this list because he played Test cricket for England.
Without any further ado, let us meet the ten-most prolific Indian run-scorers in first-class cricket.
10. Mohammad Azharuddin (Hyderabad, India)
Former Hyderabad and India captain Mohammad Azharuddin stands tenth in the list of all-time leading Indian run-scorers in first-class cricket.
The wristy batsman scored 15855 runs at an average of 51, a tally that includes 54 centuries and 74 half-centuries. 6215 of these runs, and 22 centuries, came in the 99 Test matches Azharuddin featured in. Currently, the president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association, Azharuddin is the second-highest run-getter for his domestic side, behind VVS Laxman.
The right-hander was renowned for his impeccable timing and placement. His stylish leg-side play won hearts over but so did his off-side game that he developed later in his career. Fans around the country will always fondly remember him for his silken wristwork and ability to create magic out of nowhere with the willow in hand.
One of the greatest captains India has ever produced, the Hyderabadi was also a brilliant fielder who manned the point and cover regions. Azharuddin is the only player in Tests to have scored centuries in each of his first three Tests.,
By scoring his 22nd hundred in what turned out to be his final Test match, Azharuddin became the only Indian among five players overall to have scored hundreds in their first and last Tests.
9. Polly Umrigar (Parsees, Gujarat, Bombay, India)
Pahlan Ratanji Umrigar, who played in 243 first-class games, including 59 Tests, stands ninth in the list of all-time leading Indian run-scorers in first-class cricket.
With 16155 runs to his name scored at an average of 52.28, Umrigar scored 49 centuries and 80 half-centuries during his first-class career. His highest score was 252 not out came against Cambridge University when on a tour of England.
One of the greatest batsmen India has ever produced, Umrigar's exploits on the cricket ground during the late 1940s to the early 1960s earned him plentiful plaudits. He was also a more than decent bowler, as his 325 wickets at the first-class level would suggest.
Umrigar, the first Indian player to score a Test match double century, was known for his commanding drives as well as for his ability to hook and pull fearlessly in an era where there were no helmets for protection.
8. Dilip Vengsarkar (Bombay, India)
One of the foremost exponents of the drive, Dilip Vengsarkar, stands eighth in the list of all-time leading Indian run-scorers in first-class cricket.
Making his debut in 1975, the right-hander notched up 17868 runs in 260 first-class appearances at an average of 52, scoring 55 centuries and 87 half-centuries.
In Test cricket, Vengsarkar scored 6,868 runs at an average of 42.13 in 116 games, tallying 17 centuries and 35 half-centuries in the longest format of the game. In domestic competitions for Bombay, Vengsarkar lent solidity to the middle order.
One of Vengsarkar's final defiant innings in his first-class career came in an enthralling 1991 Ranji Trophy final. Chasing a 355-run target in 70 overs on the final day against Haryana, Vengsarkar's unbeaten 139 took Bombay to the precipice of an unlikely win before last man Abey Kuruvilla was run out three runs away from the finish line.
His century in the final earned the then 35-year-old Vengsarkar a spot in India's 1992 tour of Australia, where the right-hander scored a half-century in the first Test in Sydney before retiring.
After his retirement, Vengsarkar was the chief selector of the Indian team for a while.
7. GR Viswanath (Mysore, India)
Gundappa Rangnath Vishwanath stands seventh in the list of India's all-time leading run-scorers in first-class cricket. He piled up 17,970 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 40.93 in 308 games,
The elegant batsman who turned up for Mysore (later called Karnataka), was renowned for his stylish square cuts. In 91 Tests, Viswanath scored 6,080 runs at an average of 41.93. He was one of two centurions as India successfully chased down a 406-run target in the 1976 Port of Spain Test in 1976.
In first-class cricket, Viswanath scored 44 centuries and 89 half-centuries. The right-hander is the second-highest run-getter for Karnataka after Rahul Dravid.
Vishwanath, who is also the brother-in-law of Sunil Gavaskar, looked divine with his strokeplay when in full flow. He was highly regarded by teammates and opponents alike for playing the game in true spirit.
6. Vijay Hazare (Baroda, Maharashtra, India)
One of the most elegant batsmen India has ever produced, Vijay Hazare, lends his name to the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the premier domestic one-day competition in the country.
The Baroda and Maharashtra batsman, who also played in 30 Tests, scored 18,740 first-class runs. Hazare finds himself in sixth spot in the list of India's top 10 run-scorers in first-class cricket.
The right-hander scored 60 centuries and 73 half-centuries in first-class cricket at an average of 58.33, with a highest score of 316 not out. Hazare, along with his namesake Vijay Merchant, were two of India's premier batsmen of their era. Hazare, who passed away in 2004 in Vadodara, would be remembered for his exploits in India's first tour of Australia in 1947/48.
5. Wasim Jaffer (Mumbai, Vidarbha, India)
Wasim Jaffer stands fifth in the list of India's all-time leading run-getters in first-class cricket.
The Mumbai stalwart is the all-time top-scorer in the Ranji Trophy. He scored 19410 first-class runs at an average of 50.67, with 57 centuries and 91 half-centuries.
Jaffer also featured in 31 Tests for India, scoring his lone double century in the format against the West Indies in 2006. With five Test centuries, Jaffer may consider himself a tad unfortunate for not featuring in more Tests for his country.
The Mumbaikar, who has won the most Ranji Trophy titles by any player, was Mumbai's captain when they won their 38th and 39th Ranji Trophy titles in the competition.
4. VVS Laxman (Hyderabad, India)
Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman, a stylish batsman from Hyderabad, took a particular liking to Australia in international cricket. He stands fourth in the list of all-time leading run-scorers in first-class cricket in India.
With 19730 runs to his name, a tally that includes 55 centuries and 98 centuries, Laxman was a vital cog in the Hyderabad, South Zone and India teams. The right-hander, who has a top-score of 333 in first-class cricket, scored a record 1415 runs in the 1999-00 Ranji Trophy.
Laxman had one of his most memorable moments when he scored a magnificent 281 against Australia in the 2001 Kolkata Test. Batting out the entire fourth day of that Test along with Dravid, India became only the third team to win a Test after following-on.
Wristy flicks and glances off the hips were a hallmark of Laxman's game. The Hyderabad player scored over 8700 runs in 134 Tests, scoring 17 centuries and 56 fifties in the longest format of the game.
3. Rahul Dravid (Karnataka, India)
Rahul Dravid, one of two batsmen to have scored over 10000 Test runs at number three, is third in the list of most first-class runs by an Indian player.
The Karnataka batsman, who made his first-class debut in 1990, notched up 23794 runs in first-class cricket, courtesy 68 centuries and 117 half-centuries, during a stellar 22-year career.
Nicknamed 'The Wall' for his stoic defensive technique and ability to bat for long periods, Dravid famously scored a double century and an unbeaten 73 to win a memorable Test match against Australia in Adelaide in 2003.
Dravid, one of India's Test captains, is one of seven players to have scored over 10000 runs in both Tests and ODIs.
2. Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai, India)
Sachin Tendulkar is a complete batsman of his generation and a man who 'was not just a cricketer, but an emotion,' according to noted commentator Harsha Bhogle.
The diminutive Mumbaikar comes second in the list of most first-class runs by an Indian player. Tendulkar scored 25396 first-class runs in 310 games at an average of 57.84, with 81 centuries and 116 half-centuries, in a career spanning almost a quarter-century. A record 15921 of these runs came in Test matches alone.
Tendulkar, who is also the all-time top-scorer in ODIs, was strong off the front foot, particularly his straight drives. The first player to score a double century in ODIs, Tendulkar, was also noted for his leg-glances.
His highest first-class score of 248 not out came against Bangladesh in the 2004 Test in Dhaka, a game India won by an innings and 140 runs.
1. Sunil Gavaskar (Bombay, India)
The first player to score 10,000 runs and knock up 30 centuries in Test cricket, Sunil Gavaskar, has the most first-class runs than any other Indian player.
The original Little Master scored 25834 runs in first-class cricket, a tally that includes 81 centuries and 105 half-centuries, at an average of 51.46. Gavaskar's 10122 runs in Tests consist of 34 three-figure scores and 45 half-centuries.
Gavaskar is one of five players in Test history to have scored a fourth-innings double hundred, and is the only Indian among three players to hit hundreds in both innings of a Test match on three occasions.
His record is awe-inspiring as he primarily played in an era of uncovered pitches, and often played without a helmet.