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Who are India’s greatest part-time bowlers? Wisden India readers decide

Indian part-timers
by Wisden Staff 3-minute read

We asked, you answered. Aside from their specialist bowlers, the India in the 2000s were well served in the part-timers department, when having an extra batsman was a luxury in limited-overs cricket.

There have been part-timers before them, but three Indian batsmen – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh – emerged as front-runners to the “greatest part-timer” title, when the question was put to the readers on Wisden India’s social media channels.

For those who followed cricket in the Nineties, Tendulkar was a regular feature with the ball, giving it sizeable turn on dry pitches and unfurling his bag of variations in the one-day format.

Very often, he was given the responsibility to fill the fifth bowler’s quota, sometimes even to bowl the last over in a thriller (who can forget the 1993 Hero Cup final?). He could bowl off-spin, leg-spin, seam-up … you name it. If it wasn’t for a dodgy back, and a plethora of other injuries, Tendulkar could have ended up with much more than his 154 ODI wickets.

Yuvraj Singh was, perhaps, the most accomplished of the three in terms of fulfilling the bowler’s role, regularly bowling in the white-ball formats under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. By the time the 2011 World Cup came about, he became a proper part of the bowling attack, deceiving batsmen with his sluggish action, giving the ball ample air and subtle movement of the pitch. As it turned out, he was the fan favourite.

Ganguly’s gentle medium-pace was a crafty option on suitable decks. Carrying the attitude of an express quick, Ganguly managed to deceive batsmen with his cutters, change of pace, and sometimes, genuine seam. He took two ODI five wicket-hauls (the same number as Jacques Kallis!), finishing with an exact 100 wickets.

Ganguly’s admiration seemed to extend beyond mere statistics.

Quite a handy support cast, that.

Not everyone was convinced that Ganguly and Yuvraj justify the ‘part-timers’ tag. It can be a vague definition sometimes. We’ll let you decide.

Apart from the usual suspects, a few other names also found a mention, with Kedar Jadhav and Suresh Raina prominent among them. The duo enjoyed considerable responsibility under Dhoni’s leadership, rolling their arm over for odd bursts in the middle.

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