As part of Wisden’s 1990s in Review series, the Wisden India team comprising Manoj Narayan, Aadya Sharma, Sankalp Srivastava and Roshan Gede picked out Wisden’s India men’s ODI team of the 1990s.
There was plenty to discuss, ponder and disagree about, but the panel finally settled on the following team, comprising of some of India’s best ODI cricketers in the Nineties, a period in which the team underwent a massive change of guard.
All stats refer to the period between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1999
Matches: 126, Runs: 4,705 @ 42.38, 9 100s, HS: 183
One-half of an iconic opening pair, Ganguly flourished in the second half of the decade after a forgettable one-off game on debut in 1992. He was part of three partnerships that gained over 200 runs for India in the period, hitting two of the five highest-scores for the team, including a career-best 183 in the 1999 World Cup. He was also a crafty medium-pacer, and was often called on to break partnerships, extracting movement in helpful conditions at nagging lengths.
228 matches, 8,571 runs @ 43.07, 24 100s, HS: 186*
The undisputed champion of ODI run-making in the 1990s, Tendulkar was a no-brainer at the top, also opening Wisden’s ODI Team of the 1990s. It was a decade that made him the poster boy of Indian cricket and a global brand, and all of it came via excellence in the field. There were 8,571 runs in the period, over 1,500 more than the next best. Unsurprisingly, he hit the most centuries too, playing several iconic knocks, including an unbeaten 186* in 1999, which remained India’s highest score in one-day cricket before he broke it again 11 years later with the maiden ODI double-century. Additionally, he was a wonderful part-time bowler, (perhaps a touch more than that), picking up 78 wickets in the period.
108 matches, 3,470 runs @37.71, 7 100s, HS: 153
The last year of the decade was a bumper season for Dravid, who scored as many as six centuries in 1999, and seven overall in the period. Initially branded as a long-format player, Dravid adapted himself to the white-ball game by mixing orthodoxy with an irrepressible hunger for runs. He was the ideal foil in long partnerships (he featured in two 300-run stands), and despite an iffy start in the format, Dravid grew to become a versatile one-day player as the decade progressed, and went on to become India’s anchor for the subsequent decade as well.
Mohammad Azharuddin (c)
225 matches, 6,858 email@example.com, 5 100s, HS: 153*
The end was bitter, but Azharuddin’s was undoubtedly India’s towering pillar in the middle order, and the captain of this side, much like he was for India through the majority of the 1990s. He was the second-highest run-getter overall in the decade, employing his wristy strokes to total exactly 50 fifties, the most by any player in the period. A stellar slip fielder, Azharuddin was also the only player to pouch over 100 ODI catches (115) in the 1990s.
185 matches, 5,044 firstname.lastname@example.org, 6 100s, HS: 119
An aggressive batsman more in the 2000s mould, Jadeja was a sparkling presence in India’s middle order, often playing the role of a bustling finisher at the back end. It was characterised by his quick running between wickets, an eye for finding gaps, and the ability to unleash the big strokes with ease. He hit the second most sixes for India after Tendulkar, playing crucial cameos through the decade (the assault against Waqar Younis in the 1996 World Cup quarter-final being one of them). He was a useful part-timer too, whenever the need arose.
95 matches, 1,895 email@example.com, 1 100, HS: 102*; 126 wickets @28.18, 2 five-fors, BBI: 5-33
Prabhakar edged out Kapil Dev to land a spot in this one-day team, having consistently performed through the decade and racking up impressive numbers. He was India’s fourth-highest wicket-taker, despite not playing since 1996, averaging just over 28. What helped his cause was his effective lower-order batting too. In this XI, he edged out Dev, who had a similar bowling average, but did not hit a single fifty in 62 innings in the Nineties, as compared to Prabhakar’s 11 fifties and one century in 76.
104 matches, 1,78 0 runs @27.38, 1 100, HS: 100; 63 wickets @39.46, 2 five-fors, BBI: 5-22
Robin wasn’t a straightforward pick, despite his sound numbers and his value beyond the statistics as a hard-hitting bowling all-rounder. The panel enthusiastically discussed Robin’s place, with some arguing whether a specialist batsman in Vinod Kambli was a better fit instead. After plenty of back and forth, Robin was chosen; the all-rounder struck at 79.35 in the period, playing crucial cameos alongside Jadeja at the death, and also took two five-wicket hauls with his crafty medium pace.
Nayan Mongia (wk)
139 matches, 1,268 runs @20.45, HS: 69, Catches: 109, Stumpings: 44
The panel contemplated having Dravid as the wicketkeeper in the side, and having a specialist batsman/bowler instead of Mongia at eight. However, keeping with the conservative practices of the 1990s, Mongia, the specialist wicketkeeper, found a spot, having played all his 140 matches in a six-year period from 1994 to 2000. A neat, quick stumper as well as a handy bat, Mongia was one of four wicketkeepers to claim over 150 dismissals in the Nineties.
184 matches, 244 wickets @28.11, 2 five-fors, BBI: 6-12
India’s highest wicket-taker in the format was also the most prolific spinner in the world in the Nineties, and one of only two Indian bowlers to capture 200+ wickets in the period. Kumble led India’s attack with aplomb, picking six four-wicket hauls, including the best bowling figures by any spinner in the Nineties: 6-12, in 1993.
176 matches, 237 wickets @28.21, 3 five-fors, BBI: 5-23
Srinath, a once-in-a-generation quick, carried India’s fast bowling attack through the Nineties, playing dominant roles on pitches around the world with the rest of the pace attack rallying around him. A genuinely fast operator, Srinath’s wickets tally was only behind Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in the Nineties; he plucked three five-wicket hauls, eventually ending as India’s most successful ODI quick.
134 matches, 163 wickets @31.68, 1 five-for, BBI: 5-27
The ideal supporting hand to Srinath’s express pace, Prasad bowled at a more gentle clip, but was a proven matchwinner on his day nonetheless. Through the decade, he developed a particular liking for Pakistan batsmen, picking his top-two best figures against the side, including a five-wicket haul in the 1999 World Cup.
Wisden’s India ODI team of the 1990s
1. Sourav Ganguly
2. Sachin Tendulkar
3. Rahul Dravid
4. Mohammad Azharuddin
5. Ajay Jadeja
6. Manoj Prabhakar
7. Robin Singh
8. Nayan Mongia
9. Anil Kumble
10. Javagal Srinath
11. Venkatesh Prasad