There are few things as entertaining as a tailender in his element, be it a wild slash for six or an awkward defensive prod. India have had their own range of entertaining tailenders, masterful with a ball in hand, and delightful with the bat.
We asked Wisden India readers to name their favourites over the years, and the result was a string of popular choices, all evoking nostalgia.
There was no clear winner at the end of the exercise, but there were quite a few standout names.
Sreesanth, for one. He made a brief but lasting impact with the new ball in hand, but it’ll always be that one six, off South Africa’s Andre Nel (and the wild jig that followed), that’ll remain his most popular act on a cricket field.
Sreesanth. Especially when he carted Nel for a six and then jigged away to glory.
Venkatesh Prasad. A memorable six off Harvey over cover at Nairobi.
— North Stand Gang – Wankhede (@NorthStandGang) May 23, 2020
Renowned for his prowess with the ball, Javagal Srinath was no mug with the bat, often sent in early to act as a pinch-hitter.
Javagal Srinath. He could bat! Who can forget the memorable match in Bangalore 😎
— Ashish Butala (@AshishB_79) May 23, 2020
Zaheer Khan was a reliable customer with the bat, hanging around for entire sessions to boost India’s Test scores. But he could also give the ball a mighty wallop. Ask Henry Olonga.
Loved @ImZaheer hitting Olonga 4 consecutive sixes against Zimbabwe. Also Sreesanth hitting Nel for a six. Chauhan hitting six at Karachi to clinch a thriller.
— Navin Agarwal 🇮🇳 (@agarwal_navin) May 23, 2020
Despite that century at Lord’s, it’s said that Ajit Agarkar never quite lived up to his billing as an all-rounder. Nevertheless, the high back lift and the fluent strokes gave India many valuable runs down the order.
Ajit Agarkar..found no one the same..he is such a timer of the Ball.
After having a TON at @HomeOfCricket it's not correct to call him tailender..but as of the team sheet,he is.
— Chandu ☮ (@chandu_212) May 23, 2020
Laxmipathy Balaji would often follow up a wild slog with that trademark dazzling smile, building a fanbase of his own through the mid-2000s.
Laxmipati Balaji. 2006
The whole of Lahore was smiling when he batted… And that included the bowler, despite being HIT boundaries.
— Wajahat Ali Syed (@aliwajahatsyed) May 23, 2020
There wasn’t a tailender as pugnacious as a fired-up Harbhajan Singh, who blasted back-t0-back Test centuries against New Zealand in 2010. Jason Gillespie who?
Harbhajan slog sweeping Warne for SIX during Aus tour India 2004
— Anurag Sinha (@anuragsinha1992) May 23, 2020
Anil Kumble took 619 Test wickets, but never celebrated any one of those as enthusiastically as he did his Test century at The Oval in 2007.
Anil kumble iconic 100 at the oval 2007.
— Shubham Madaan (@Shubham88598619) May 23, 2020
In the current team, Ishant Sharma has emerged as a handy lower-order batsman, showcasing his ability to spend sessions at the crease with minimal strokeplay. Umesh Yadav‘s name also generated considerable buzz after his 10-ball 31 against South Africa last year.
— Aditya Pandya (@adi_avpandya) May 23, 2020
This gentleman just couldn’t decide. Neither could we.
I loved ajit agarkar he was always gritty and also anil Kumble he hardly throw away his wicket , and currently i think bhuvneshwar kumar , there is no entertainer in our tailender line up , i think sreesanth was fun
— Abhijeet Anand (@ABanandavionics) May 23, 2020