The Indian ODI team's dominance over the years has mostly been due to a rich resource of consistent, world-beating batting talent.
Due to the versatility of some of these players in different continents and match conditions, the Indian team has enjoyed particular success in the shortened format of the game, even if it has struggled in the longest format overseas.
In the past four years, we have seen the dominance of Indian regulars such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan in each year's list of top ODI run-getters.
Rohit Sharma's five hundreds in the 2019 ICC World Cup ensured he finished the year with 1490 runs. Virat Kohli brushed aside the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final disappointment to rack up 1460 runs at a whopping average of 76.84. However, while these numbers are impressive in their own right, they do not match up to the top 3 performances we shall be covering in this article.
Curiously, among the top 15 run-getting performances in a calendar year, just 3 belong to the 2010s, with the majority belonging to the late 1990s. Unsurprisingly, the years in which ICC ODI World Cups were played, had several batsmen smashing 1500 runs or more.
Here, we have a look at the 3 top Indian batsmen on this list, who are also the top 3 batsmen internationally in terms of runs scored in a calendar year.
#3 Rahul Dravid (1761 runs in 1999)
For someone who was perceived as a Test specialist during the early and latter part of his career, earning him the moniker of The Wall, Rahul Dravid cracked the ODI format as well, charting out a remarkable career with over 10,000 runs at an average of 39.2. He also captained the Indian cricket team during the 2007 ODI World Cup, and enjoyed a career spanning a total of 15 years from 1996 to 2011.
Jammy, as he was fondly known by fans and within the team, enjoyed an especially prolific year in 1999. In his debut World Cup, Dravid scored a total of 461 runs from just 8 games. This included two mammoth partnerships that were both World Cup records at the time - 237 runs with Sachin Tendulkar against Kenya, and 318 runs with Sourav Ganguly versus Sri Lanka. During this period, Dravid also proved his worth behind the stumps as a part-time wicket-keeper.
Two other massive centuries in the same year - 123 and 153, both against New Zealand - cemented the former India captain's dominance, in a year he finally established himself in the format. Dravid is still recognised as one of the best ODI cricketers for his fine record in the period ranging from 1999 to 2005.
#2 Sourav Ganguly (1767 runs in 1999)
The Prince of Kolkata, as Sourav Ganguly is fondly known, currently heads the all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Before his administrative forays, Ganguly was known for his attacking batting style as an opener as well as his more-than-handy part-time medium pace.
The former Kolkata Knight Riders captain played a pivotal role in India's ODI batting dominance from 1996 to 2005, and led India to the 2003 ICC World Cup final. He scored 22 hundreds and 72 fifties in an illustrious career.
The most memorable part of Dada's record-breaking charge in 1999 was a colossal 183 off 158 balls against Sri Lanka during the ICC World Cup. While India floundered overseas in Test series in Australia and South Africa, Ganguly scored five ODI centuries during the year outside of the World Cup, quickly becoming one of the most reputed batsmen in the world during that period.
While the later parts of his career were marred with on-and-off-field controversies, Ganguly ensured he cemented his place in the record books via his batting. He was dominant on the run-scoring charts for 1997 (1338 runs), 1998 (1328 runs) and 2000 (1579 runs) as well.
Very few players have been so consistently dominant over a period of four years like Ganguly managed to be.
#1 Sachin Tendulkar (1894 runs in 1998)
The record-holder for the most ODI runs in a calendar year is hardly a surprise. One of the most influential and decorated Indian cricketers to have ever played the game, Sachin Tendulkar was the only cricketer from the Fab Five era to retire with an ICC World Cup win.
Tendulkar continues to occupy a hallowed presence in cricketing circles many years after retirement, recently featuring in the Big Appeal bushfire relief match in Australia as a coach.
The year 1998 was just one of the dominant years in Sachin Tendulkar's peerless international career, and in the year, he scored over 2500 runs in Tests and ODIs with as many as 12 international hundreds. Averaging nearly 70, Sachin's most famous innings in that year were back-to-back centuries against Australia in Sharjah around the time of his birthday, the replays of which are watched to this day.
The Master Blaster went on to captain the Mumbai Indians, later taking over as a mentor for the franchise. The jersey number 10 occupies a special place in Indian cricket folklore. However, with the batsmen in the current Indian team hitting a purple patch in their respective careers, it remains to be seen how many of these records can stand the test of time.
Published 24 Aug 2020, 18:07 IST