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Stats Corner: The best Indian batsman?

By Gambit
January 12 2005

There is no question that the three greatest test batsmen ever produced by India are Dravid,Gavaskar and Tendulkar. Each of them have batted at different positions and have performed admirably.

There is no question that the three greatest test batsmen ever produced by India are Dravid,Gavaskar and Tendulkar. Each of them have batted at different positions and have performed admirably. Gavaskar will easily be counted among the top 5 openers of all time, Dravid can lay claim to the best number 3 after the Don and Tendulkar makes it to many all time XIs.

For an initial comparision, I shall take out teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for Dravid and Tendulkar and Sri Lanka for Gavaskar.

Their career records without these teams are:

Dravid-5982 runs from 121 innings at 54.1
Gavaskar-9522 runs from 189 innings at 50.3
Tendulkar-8534 runs from 169 innings at 54.8

Tendulkar here pips the other two in performances against the top test teams.

Performances against the best bowling sides:

I have used the quality of bowling of the opposition they faced as an obvious yardstick. For me, a batsman who scores runs against a team with at least 2 decent/good bowlers is a good bat. A great batsman is one who scores runs against a team with really good bowlers. Since we are talking about the greatest Indian batsman of all time, it is these runs, the runs a batsman scores against such bowlers, which really show his mettle. In order to compare their batting against bowling of highest quality, I  decided on a criteria where their batting performances against bowling sides comprising at least two bowlers with career averages of less than 27 is taken into account.

Based on this analysis, one cannot etch in stone who the best ever Indian batsman was, but it does provide another facet to the comparisons game.

I have chosen the arbitrary number of 27 since it is the hallmark of great bowlers to end their careers around and below that mark. I have listed knocks played by these three against opposition which had atleast 2 bowlers with an average below 27. I have done so in order to display what these 3 did when confronted with 2 or more such bowlers.

Sunil Gavaskar(1971-1987)

1. Eng(Underwood,Snow)- Oval 1971. Score- 6 and 0.
2. Eng(Willis,Underwood)- Manchester 1974. Score- 101 and 58.
3. Eng(Underwood,Hendrick)- Lord's 1974. Score- 49 and 5.
4. Eng(Underwood,Hendrick)- Edgbaston 1974. Score-0 and 4.
5. WI(Holding,Roberts)- Barbados 1976. Score- 37 and 1.
6. WI(Holding,Roberts)- Trinidad 1976. Score- 156.
7. WI(Holding,Daniel)- Jamaica 1976. Score- 66 and 2.
8. Eng(Willis,Lever,Underwood)- Delhi 1976. Score- 38 and 71.
9. Eng(Willis,Lever,Underwood)- Calcutta 1976. Score-0 and 18.
10. Eng(Willis,Lever,Underwood)- Madras 1977. Score- 39 and 24.
11. Eng(Willis,Lever,Underwood)- Bangalore 1977. Score- 4 and 50.
12. Eng(Willis,Lever,Underwood)- Bombay 1977. Score-108 and 42.
13. Eng(Hendrick,Willis)- Edgbaston 1979. Score- 61 and 68.
14. Eng(Lever,Hendrick)- Lord's 1979. Score- 42 and 59.
15. Eng(Willis,Hendrick)- Leeds 1979. Score- 78
16. Eng(Willis,Hendrick)- Oval 1979. Score-13 and 221.
17. Eng(Lever,Underwood)- Mumbai 1980. Score- 49 and 24.
18. Eng(Willis,Underwood)- Mumbai 1981. Score- 55 and 14.
19. Eng(Lever,Underwood)- Bangalore 1981. Score- 172.
20. Eng(Lever,Underwood)- Delhi 1981. Score- 46.
21. Eng(Willis,Underwood)-Calcutta 1982. Score-42 and 83*.
22. Eng(Willis,Underwood)-Chennai 1982. Score-25 and 11.
23. Eng(Willis,Underwood)-Kanpur 1982. Score- 52.
24. WI(Roberts,Holding,Garner,Marshall)- Kingston 1983. Score- 20 and 0.
25. WI(Roberts,Holding,Garner,Marshall)- POS 1983. Score- 1 and 32.
26. WI(Roberts,Holding,Garner,Marshall)- Georgetown 1983. Score-147*.
27. WI(Roberts,Holding,Garner,Marshall)- Barbados 1983. Score-2 and 19.
28. WI(Roberts,Holding,Marshall)- Antigua 1983. Score-18 and 1.
29. WI(Marshall,Holding)-Kanpur 1983. Score-0 and 7.
30. WI(Marshall,Holding)-Delhi 1983. Score-121 and 15.
31. WI(Marshall,Holding)-Ahmedabad 1983. Score-90 and 1.
32. WI(Marshall,Holding)-Mumbai 1983. Score-12 and 3.
33. WI(Marshall,Roberts,Holding)- Calcutta 1983. Score- 0 and 20.
34. WI(Marshall,Roberts,Holding)- Calcutta 1983. Score- 236*.
35. Pak(Wasim,Imran)- Madras 1987. Score- 91.
36. Pak(Wasim,Imran)- Jaipur 1987. Score- 0 and 24.
37. Pak(Wasim,Imran)- Ahmedabad 1987. Score- 63.
38. Pak(Wasim,Imran)- Bangalore 1987. Score- 21 and 96.

3034 runs from 67 innings@ 47.4. with 9 100s and 13 50s.


Sachin Tendulkar(1989-)

1. Pak(Wasim,Waqar,Imran)- Karachi 1989. Score- 15
2. Pak(Wasim,Imran)- Faisalabad 1989. Score- 59 and 8.
3. Pak(Wasim,Imran)- Lahore 1989. Score- 41
4. Pak(Wasim,Waqar,Imran)- Sialkot. 1989. Score- 35 and 57.
5. Aus(Reid,Warne)- SCG 1992. Score-148*
6. Aus(McGrath,Reiffel)- Delhi 1996. Score-10 and 0.
7. RSA(Donald,De Villers)- Ahmedabad 1996. Score- 42 and 7.
8. RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Durban 1996. Score- 15 and 4.
9. RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Cape Town 1996. Score- 169 and 9.
10.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Jo Burg 1996. Score-35 and 9.
11.WI(Walsh,Amby,Bishop)-Jamaica 1997. Score- 7 and 15*
12.WI(Walsh,Amby)- POS 1997. Score- 88
13.WI(Amby,Bishop)- Barbados 1997. Score-92 and 4.
14.WI(Amby,Bishop,Walsh)- Georgetown 1997. Score-83
15.Aus(Reiffel,Warne)- Chennai 1998. Score-4 and 155*
16.Pak(Waqar,Wasim)-Chennai 1999. Score-0 and 136.
17.Pak(Waqar,Wasim)-Delhi 1999. Score-6 and 29.
18.Pak(Wasim,Shoaib)-Calcutta 1999. Score-0 and 9.
19.Aus(McGrath,Fleming,Warne)-Adelaide 1999. Score-61 and 0.
20.Aus(McGrath,Fleming,Warne)-MCG 1999. Score-116 and 52.
21.Aus(McGrath,Fleming,Warne)-SCG 1999. Score-45 and 4.
22.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Mumbai 2000. Score- 97 and 8.
23.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Bangalore 2000. Score- 21 and 20.
24.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Fleming,Warne)- Mumbai 2001. Score- 76 and 65.
25.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Kolkatta 2001. Score-10 and 10.
26.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Chennai 2001. Score-126 and 17.
27.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Nagpur 2004. Score-8 and 2.
28.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie)- Mumbai 2004. Score-5 and 55.

2019 runs from 47 innings @ 41.78, with 6 100s and 11 50s.

Rahul Dravid(1996-)

1.Aus(McGrath,Reiffel)- Delhi 1996. Score- 40
2.RSA(Donald, De Villiers)- Ahmedabad 1996. Score-24 and 34
3.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Durban 1996. Score- 7 and 27*
4.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Cape Town 1996. Score- 2 and 12.
5.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Jo Burg 1996. Score- 148 and 81.
6.WI(Walsh,Amby,Bishop)-Jamaica 1997. Score- 43 and 51*
7.WI(Walsh,Amby)- POS 1997. Score- 57
8.WI(Amby,Bishop)- Barbados 1997. Score-78 and 2.
9.WI(Amby,Walsh,Bishop)- Antigua 1997. Score-37*
10.WI(Amby,Bishop,Walsh)- Georgetown 1997. Score-92
11.Aus(Reiffel,Warne)- Chennai 1998. Score-52 and 56.
12.Pak(Waqar,Wasim)-Chennai 1999. Score-53 and 10.
13.Pak(Waqar,Wasim)-Delhi 1999. Score-33 and 29.
14.Pak(Wasim,Shoaib)-Calcutta 1999. Score-24 and 13.
15.Aus(McGrath,Fleming,Warne)-Adelaide 1999. Score-35 and 6.
16.Aus(McGrath,Fleming,Warne)-MCG 1999. Score-9 and 14.
17.Aus(McGrath,Fleming,Warne)-SCG 1999. Score-29 and 0.
18.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Mumbai 2000. Score- 22 and 37.
19.RSA(Donald,Pollock)- Bangalore 2000. Score- 17 and 18.
20.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Fleming,Warne)- Mumbai 2001. Score- 9 and 39.
21.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Kolkatta 2001. Score-25 and 180
22.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Chennai 2001. Score-81 and 4.
23.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Bangalore 2004. Score-0 and 60.
24.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Chennai 2004. Score-26.
25.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie,Warne)- Nagpur 2001. Score-21 and 2.
26.Aus(McGrath,Gillespie)- Mumbai 2001. Score-31* and 27.

1530 runs from 40 innings @36.9 with 2 100s and 10 50s.


Gavaskar comes out on top with an average of 47.4 against such bowling, a dip of just 3 runs from his career average.

Tendulkar comes second with an average of 41.78, a dip of 15.7 from his career average.

Dravid comes third with an average of 36.9, a dip of 20.6 runs from his career average.


Just to compare, Brian Lara by the same metrics, averages 40.8 and Matthew Hayden averages 36.8.

Here are their statistics away from home(from the above data):

Tendulkar: 1171 runs @ 50.9
Dravid: 730 runs @ 45.6
Gavaskar: 1267 runs @ 45.25

Based on this, Gavaskar is the best Indian test batsman till now. Tendulkar is the best test batsman away from home. Tendulkar and Dravid will have ample opportunity to show their skills and might overtake Gavaskar in the years to come.

NB: There is a foreseeable flaw in choosing 'best bowlers' based on career averages as opposed to their average at the time the game is played. Warne in 1992 was a useless bowler for Aus, whereas McDermott was bowling superbly. The same holds true for Harmison who was an ordinary bowler prior to the WI series, where as against NZ he was an inform bowler who was a genuine threat. Holding and Wills averaged 35+ when Gavaskar first played them. Intangibles like the pitch conditions are also not taken into account. An Allan Donald led attack on a spiteful South African pitch or a Murali led attack on a Colombo crumbler would be great attacks to face.

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