5 Indian cricketers from the 90s who could have been superstars in T20 cricket

Javagal Srinath would have been a terrific T20 bowler
Javagal Srinath would have been a terrific T20 bowler

India have always been a powerhouse of talent. The likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath, amongst others, have won many accolades for the country.

The introduction of the T20 format in the early 2000s, however, brought about an overhaul in the gentlemen's game. If copybook drives and glorious blocks represent the old days, the new era is all about explosive heaves and cheeky shots.

This drastic change in the way cricket is played has often invited comparisons between the current lot of cricketers and their predecessors. While the game was relatively slower in the past, allowing the players to take time to settle in, some players were arguably ahead of their time.

On that note, here are five Indian cricketers from the 90s who could have been T20 superstars.

#5. Ajay Jadeja

Known for his calmness on the field, much like MS Dhoni a decade later, Ajay Jadeja was one of the most flamboyant cricketers in the 90s. He played 196 ODI matches for India and scored 5359 runs at an average of 37.47.

Ever smiling on the field, Jadeja took the stadium by storm when he played a gem of an innings against Pakistan in the quarter-finals of the 1996 World Cup. Batting in the lower middle order, Jadeja played a major hand in taking India's score from 236/6 to 279/8 before being dismissed in the 50th over.

The right-handed batter plundered 45 runs in 25 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes.

9th March 1996. Sidhu's magic upfront, Ajay Jadeja's brutal assault on Waqar Younis, the Pakistan openers scoring at will before Aamir Sohail decided to show Venkatesh Prasad his place!Still one of my favourite matches ever!

His counterattacking style of play was once on display against Australia at the Oval during the 1999 World Cup. Chasing a stiff target of 283 runs, India were reeling at 17 for four, when Jadeja decided to launch a counterattack.

Along with Robin Singh, he took the team's score to 158, before Singh was sent back to the pavilion.

Jadeja, however, continued the onslaught and went on to score his sixth ODI hundred. Although the team got all out for 205, it was a brilliant display of explosiveness akin to T20 cricket.

#4. Venkatesh Prasad

Venkatesh Prasad represented the nation when bowling in death overs wasn't Team India's best asset. Despite his calm demeanor, he was just as competitive on the field as the likes of Waqar Younis and Glenn McGrath.

Along with his compatriot Javagal Srinath, Prasad formed a fiery pace bowling partnership in the 90s, that is celebrated till date.

Although not as fast as Srinath, Prasad was just as adept at chipping in with wickets as his colleague. One of the most memorable moments of Prasad's career was against Pakistan in the quarter-finals of the 1996 World Cup.

Chasing 288, Pakistan were cruising at 109 for one when Aamir Sohail walked down the track and slashed the Karnataka pacer for a boundary. Immediately after, he pointed his bat towards the boundary, indicating to Prasad that that was where he was going to hit the next ball.

25 years ago, Aamir Sohail hit a boundary off Venkatesh Prasad and then pointed his bat to indicate where the next ball was going to be hit. And Prasad hit the stumps instead. The epic 1996 India Pakistan World Cup QF at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Remember it like yesterday!

The Indian pacer, however, had the last laugh when he uprooted Sohail's stumps on the very next ball and showed him the way towards the pavilion. Prasad went on to finish with figures of 3/45, and India won the match by 39 runs.

#3. Robin Singh

Australia Defeated India by 77 runs #ONTHISDAY 04-06-1999 in the 1st Super 6 Game World Cup in England.๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Bat 1st Scored 282/6 Mark Waugh 83๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ in Reply 4/17 at one stage but some good Fight Back from Ajay Jadeja 100 & Robin Singh 75 but they never close to Aus Target.

Robin Singh was one such batter who was tailor-made for the T20 format. With an unorthodox batting stance and a strong bottom hand, Singh finished many games for India.

Alongside that, the Trinidad-born Singh was an excellent runner between wickets and exasperated the best fielding sides by taking quick singles.

In the 136 ODIs that he played for India, Singh scored 2336 runs at a strike rate of 74.30. He was also an excellent fielder who took some spectacular catches in the field.

At a time when there was a scarcity of good all-rounders in the Indian team, the inclusion of Singh provided the team with a balance. He bowled at a medium pace and often functioned as the fifth bowling option for the team.

The former Indian all-rounder picked up 69 wickets with a good economy of 4.79.

#2. Mohammed Azharuddin

Former Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin is yet another cricketer who would've fared well in the T20 format. The Hyderabad batter burst onto the scene, scoring three centuries on the trot in his first three Tests.

Although Azharuddin had his share of troubles on fast and bouncy pitches, he was excellent on those that offered spin. He was one of the best flickers of the cricket ball and was adept at finding gaps seemingly invisible to others.

Azharuddin scored one of the best knocks of his career against South Africa in the 2nd Test match of the India-South Africa series in 1996, which was played in Kolkata. Batting first, the Proteas scored a mammoth 428 runs on the board. In reply to that, the Indian team lost its top order in quick succession. To make things worse, the Hyderabad batter had to retire hurt with a forearm injury.

4, 4, 4, 4, 45 consecutive boundaries.@azharflicks against KlusenerThe atmosphere at Eden Gardens, Kolkata was ๐Ÿ”ฅAzhar reached the hundred in just 74 balls - joint record holder for fastest test hundred for India.@bhogleharsha behind the mic.

It is said that tough times bring out the best in an individual. Azharuddin proved that when he came out to bat the next day. Despite the injury, he smashed Lance Klusener for five boundaries in an over. Not only that, but he also went on to score one of the fastest centuries in Test cricket in 74 balls.

#1. Javagal Srinath

Most of the world saw Javagal Srinath as a toiler. South Africans saw a proper fast bowler.On his 50th birthday, don't miss this #HateToLove from our archive:

Javagal Srinath was arguably a cricketer who didn't get the recognition he deserved. Back when the Indian team didn't have the pace attack that it has today, Srinath partnered with Venkatesh Prasad to wreak havoc on the opposition's batting line-up.

The Karnataka pacer made his international debut against Australia in 1991 in Brisbane. He picked up three wickets in that match, including the wickets of Geoff Marsh and Mark Waugh. Although he bowled well with the red ball, he was arguably more dangerous in ODIs.

In the 229 ODIs that Srinath played, he picked up 315 wickets at an economy of 4.44. In his prime, Srinath was a major threat to the batters, who even preferred not to go after him.

In a format that has revolutionized batting, it is rare for batters to see off a bowler and target other bowlers instead. If the Karnataka speedster were to play today, he would surely have been a difficult bowler to score against.

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Edited by Ankush Das
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