Playing for the Indian cricket team is the greatest honour for any cricketer that plays the game in the country. While the Indian cricket team has produced greats of the game whose longevity are unmatched, there are several players that could have received more opportunities for the country, had circumstances been a little different.
Although the following players did make a mark on the team, they could easily have played more matches for the country, and possibly, had a greater impact.
#1 Irfan Pathan
Although any comparisons to the great Kapil Dev may have been far-fetched, Irfan Pathan was a brilliant pace-bowling all-rounder to have for the Indian cricket team. While that hat-trick in the first over of a Test match in Pakistan may be the most memorable moment of his career, the pacer did have 100 wickets in 29 games in the longer format of the game.
Add to that his 200+ wickets in the shorter versions of the game, and you could see that Irfan Pathan had a lot to offer to the Indian cricket team with the ball alone. Take into consideration his handy performances with the bat, and it is quite baffling that Pathan last played for the Indian cricket team when he was 27 years old.
While that may be put down to several reasons, one would have expected the man-of-the-match in the 2007 World T20 Final to have played a lot more before he announced his retirement in 2020.
#2 Pragyan Ojha
Another case of what-could-have-been, Pragyan Ojha probably would have enjoyed a lot more success at the international level had Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin not been bowling at their best through the different stages of his career.
In the 24 Test matches he did play, he ended up picking up an impressive 113 wickets. Memorably, however, he did pick up 10 wickets, and the man-of-the-match award in his final Test match, incidentally also the last match in a certain Sachin Tendulkar’s career. Of course, we did not know then that the then-27-year-old would never play for the Indian cricket team again.
Like Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha would also announce his retirement early in 2020 on the back of a dwindling domestic career, where he hadn’t played a first-class match since late 2018.
#3 Parthiv Patel
Parthiv Patel, who made his debut for the Indian cricket team as a baby-faced 17-year-old in England back in 2002, would go on to play 25 Tests and 38 ODIs. However, there is much reason to believe that those numbers could have been a lot higher.
Although Patel’s first and his last Test came 16 years apart, those years were filled with sporadic appearances and long absences from the national team. It could be argued that the wicketkeeper from Gujarat would have made a lot more appearances for the national team if his career did not coincide with that of one MS Dhoni.
The 35-year-old is still going strong in the domestic arena, however, having led Gujarat to a semi-final appearance in the 2020 Ranji Trophy. In fact, his 93 in the final innings of that match momentarily gave the Gujarat side some hope of making the final before being beaten by eventual champions, Saurashtra.
#4 Manish Pandey
Although Manish Pandey first played for the Indian cricket team in the shorter formats of the game in 2015, he had been lighting up the domestic arena since his debut back in 2008. While his performances in ODIs and T20Is just about justify his selection in the side, it is his numbers in first-class cricket that speak volumes of his ability as a batsman.
The captain of the Karnataka Ranji team has 6389 runs and 19 centuries to his name at an average of over 51.11. Among several great performances early in his career, Pandey hit a particularly memorable 144 in the 2010 Ranji Trophy final, in a game that Karnataka would lose to Mumbai by just 6 runs in the end.
Although his numbers in domestic cricket do call out for opportunities at the highest level, the emergence of players like Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane has seen Manish Pandey not get the opportunities that he would have liked.
#5 Wasim Jaffer
Ranji Trophy legend Wasim Jaffer played 31 Tests for the Indian cricket team. Although he scored 5 centuries and close to 2000 runs, his average of 34.10 left a lot to be desired from a batsman of his stature.
However, his 31 matches in the longest form of the game at the international stage feel less when you consider the fact that he had close to 20000 first-class runs. His 23 years in domestic cricket saw him make 19410 runs in 260 first-class games at an average of 50. However, the emergence of opening batsmen like Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir saw his international career cut short early.
The former Mumbai opener called time on his illustrious career earlier this year, having won the Ranji Trophy a record times, 8 with Mumbai and then 2 more with Vidarbha.Published 20 Jun 2020, 18:06 IST