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Most respected Cricketers of the Sub-continent

When we talk about the subcontinent cricket, we immediately think of the Indo-Pak rivalry. When either of these teams plays against other nations, Sri-Lanka, Australia, England etc., it’s the performance that counts. But when the greens and the blues tackle together, all that matters is the win. Interestingly, Bangladesh has also squeezed some way into this clash of the traditional rivals, but still both Pakistani and Indian fans are much more forgiving for a lost catch or a run-out against Bangladesh than they are against each other. Today we will look at some of the stars from India and Pakistan that transcended the boundaries of their country and became all-time beloved by the cricket fans of both countries.

#1 Javed Miandad

We are obviously going to start with the greatest event in the history of Pakistan’s cricket. Javed Miandad’s sixer! A brief intro first: The sportsman known for his unconventional batting as well as captaincy made his name a shining star with excellent batting and bowling skills. In local language he was called “machine who makes runs”, and quickly became synonymous with the legend that is associated to cricket in this part of the world. Everyone who is even remotely familiar to the Pakistan’s cricket history knows about the everlasting performance that Miandad gave in 1986. Let’s take you down that lane one more time.

The world knows of the cut-throat emotionally-charged stop-at-nothing rivalry between India and Pakistan. It was the final ball of the Asia-Cup final in Sharjah. Pakistan had scored 242 runs, with 9 wickets out. India had given the target of 246. One ball. One wicket. 4 runs needed. The nation watched spellbound as the Indian bowler Chetan Sharma ran to bowl the last ball which was effortlessly swung to the skies by Javed Miandad to hit the final six of the tournament and with it landing Pakistan one of its most memorable wins for all times to come.

If you still haven’t watched it, here is the link! You’re welcome. 

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#2 Virender Sehwag

The second in this list is the all-time topper opener – Virender Sehwag. The world of cricket will always remember him as the batsman who redefined the role of an opener in Test cricket. He is known for his immaculate skills not just in surviving the new ball, but also to be able to shred it to threads with his individualistic aggressive batting. He is the only Indian batsmen to have scored a triple century in a test match, and he has done it twice! His first triple century was against Pakistan in 2004, and the second one was against South Africa, which was also the fastest triple century coming off just 278 balls.

Some extra trivia for you: Virender Sehwag has the fifth-highest individual score (219) in ODIs in a single innings.

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#3 Sachin Tendulkar

We are all aware of the suspected curse that this batsmen carried all batting career with him – if ‘Tendulkar scores a century, India loses’.  Although this is something cricket fans like to indulge in and enjoy, the fact behind this theory can also be seen in a different light. That is, no matter how the team played, or how strong the opponents were, Sachin Tendulkar almost always emerged as the man with the target of a 100 on the scoreboard. He has played 329 innings in 200 test matches and has put up a gigantic score of 15,921 runs. In ODIs he has made 18,426 runs in 463 matches. Suffice it is to say that his Cricbuzz profile begins like this “Sachiiiiiiin, Sachin! You’ve heard the chant. You may not have heard of the sport, but you’ve heard the chant.”

Some extra trivia for you: Sachin Tendulkar has the most total centuries scored (100) among all international cricketers.

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#4 Zaheer Abbas

The all-time loved and respected Pakistani cricketer now makes his entry into this piece. Another middle order player is as renowned for his cricket skills as his bold move to keep his spectacles on in the field. He has the status of a superhero, with the world identifying his as a reincarnation of the Australian cricketer Sir Donald George Bradman. Bradman, aka The Don, had a test batting average of 99.94, the greatest achievement of any sportsman in a major sport. Zaheer’s test batting average was some way half to this at 44.8 but he had achievements of his own to grace the cricket charts forever.  When he started playing, many thought that this future ‘Asian Bradman’ had a faulty technique. In 1971, Zaheer Abbas gave a perfect shut up call to his critics when he thrashed the English bowlers into submission and gave Pakistan a 608 declared score.

Some extra trivia for you: In the early nineties, Zaheer Abbas became the first ever cricketer to score three consecutive centuries in an ODI.

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#5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni

No one can resist being charmed by this incredibly calm and composed player, who is just the exact amount of aggressive and destructive when he has a bat in his hands. With a score card of 10,415 runs in 286 ODIs and a batting average of 38.09 in test cricket, MS Dhoni is as renowned for his batting as he is for his wicket keeping. The most memorable performance from Dhoni came on the night of 2nd April, 2011 when his spectacular shot let Indian team to win the World Cup after 28 years. Dhoni’s career is soaked in extraordinary merit, perseverance, and incredible nobility on the ground as much in face of success as in the face of defeat.

Some extra trivia for you: MS Dhoni had to join the Railways Ranji team and work as a ticket collector because his home town wasn’t big enough for the national team to consider for tryouts.

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#6 Imran Khan

Long gone are the days when Imran Khan was just the internationally renowned cricketer for Pakistan. Now he is leading the country he played for, with the record of leading the Pakistani cricket team to its first World Cup victory cemented in his CV. For Indians, it might be disconcerting since they are used to adoring Pakistani cricket players and detesting Pakistani politicians. Anyways, after all is said and done, Imran Khan remains one of the best cricket players ever produced by the subcontinent. Imran made his international debut for Pakistan while he was still a teenager. Soon after he joined the national team as a regular player, he was declared the third fastest bowler in the world, leaving behind even the likes of Andy Roberts. At the pinnacle of his career, he assembled 62 wickets in mere 9 matches – the lowest ever in a calendar year. He is also credited with finding another exemplary cricketer for the national team when no one else could bother to give him a chance. He’s next on the list.

Some extra trivia for you: Imran Khan retired from cricket only to become even more world renowned, first with Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre named after his mother, and then with his political career which to date has culminated into him becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

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#7 Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram’s flight from someone who had never played competitive cricket to “The King of Swing” is as insane as his fearsome bowling spells later in his career. In fact he could not even make his college team. However, his magic moment came when he participated in trials for the national team, and serving as a spectator the first two days, he finally got the chance to play on the third. It will be completely fair to say that the 1992 world cup win owes a lot to Wasim Akram. He and Waqar Younis had made such a formidable bowling partnership that they were virtually unplayable. Hatricks, bowling spells, and accumulation of wickets became a norm for this young cricketer, who managed to pierce through the defenses of batsmen who were deemed invincible. He became one of the best bowlers in the history of cricket and finished his career as the best bowler in the history of Pakistan in both ODI and test formats.

Some extra trivia for you: Wasim Akram remained the leading wicket taker with a mammoth number of 502 ODI wickets to his name, until Sri Lankan player Muttiah Muralitharan took the record away from him on 5th February 2009 with 502 wickets.

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#8 Waqar Younis

Waqar Younis has represented Pakistan in 87 Tests and 416 ODIS across the globe. His bowling performance had earned him the title of “The Burewala Express.” One of ‘The Two Ws’ along with Wasim Akram, Waqar made a routine out of landing four or five wickets in every Test innings. He repeated this spell in 22 different matches, and at least five teams he managed to pick ten or more wickets in a single Test match. Providing a classy alternate to the rising fast and short bowling back in his day, he brought in his signature style of full and fast. Aiming for the batsmen’s toes with this style of bowling, he also added the title of “The Toe Crusher” in his long list of accolades awarded to him by the fans. He was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in December 2013, and have served as the coach for Pakistan team, and as a commentator.

Some extra trivia for you: Waqar Younis was 22 years old when he became the youngest captain of Pakistan National team, and went on to represent Pakistan in 17 Test matches and 62 ODIs as the captain.

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#9 Anil Kumble

One of the best spinners to have walked this earth, Anil Kumble in fact did not even need to spin the ball much. He did not have to come up with a sleight of hand like Muralitharan or run at a hundred kilometers like Shoab Akhtar, yet he left both of these behind along with dozens others to become, and remain, the third highest wicket taker of all times. While most of the other entries in this list are those with naturally blessed talents and a lot of confidence, this particular sportsman made his place in cricket and fans’ hearts with his hard work. He did not have a miraculous entry into cricket like Wasim Akram, and neither did he have a seductive persona to pull the crowds like MS Dhoni. And despite all this, he landed the enormous record of 619 test wickets. His moment of glory came later than many of his teammates and age fellows, but when it did come there was no turning back. In 1992, The Irani trophy season-opener match he led his team to victory singlehandedly with a score of 13/138. When he battled against South Africa, with the least favorable weather and pitch conditions, Kumble managed to pick up 18 wickets in just four tests. Battling against the arch-rival Pakistan in 1999, Anil Kumble solidified his position once and for all when we ran through the entire Pakistani line-up and earned sensational 10/74 figure. It is notable here that before his entry onto the pitch, Pakistani team was 101/0 at a stage.

Some extra trivia for you: The Indian city of Bangalore honored the all-time beloved bowler by renaming the ‘Oriental Circle’ after his name.

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#10 Shoaib Akhtar

Let’s end this article on our very own “Rawalpindi Express”. Shoaib Akhtar is to bowlers what Bugatti Super Sport is to race cars. Having his distinct record of running all the way from the boundary to bowl at an average speed of 100 miles per hour, Shoaib’s appearance with the ball alone was enough to terrorize the batsmen facing him. At his best, he was an absolute delight to watch, the rising roar of the crowd was still slower than him reaching the pitch from the boundary. He has had his fair share of the setbacks as well, with everything on his charts from performance enhancing drugs to rifts with teammates, and ball tampering, and also being banned for these. But his neither his resilience nor his fan following deterred in face of these challenges. He even played matches on painkillers after being injured but never stopped. We started with Miandad’s legendary sixer against India, and we will end on Akhtar’s legendary bowling against India during 2003 World Cup. The Indian Master Sachin was in his element performing heartwarming cover-drives and upper cuts, when this speedster cut him short at 98 score with a ripper of a bouncer. Here have a look at the heart stopping moment once again along with a few other battles of the duo!

Some extra trivia for you: During the 2003 World Cup, in a pool match against he was officially recorded delivering bowling at the speed of 161.3 km/h.

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