India have never been blessed with absolutely world-class all-rounders since the great Kapil Dev retired from the sport. Over the course of the past 3 decades, we have seen players like Ravi Shastri, Irfan Pathan, and Ravichandran Ashwin perform decently, if not exceptionally.
Of late, all-rounders like Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya have seemed to establish their places in the Indian playing XI across formats, owing to their dynamism with the bat and unique skill-set with the ball. However, they are all recent answers to a question that has plagued the Men in Blue for years.
In all the years that India have been active in the ODI format, only three players have scored over 5,000 runs and taken 100 or more wickets in the 50-over format. Unsurprisingly, all three of these cricketers were primarily known for their batting.
In this article, we take a look at the 3 Indian cricketers who hold this unique distinction.
#3 Yuvraj Singh
Former Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh is one of the three Indian players to have achieved this feat. With 8,701 runs in 304 ODIs at an average of 36.55 and strike rate of 87.67, the southpaw is undoubtedly one of the country's greatest No. 4 batsmen.
Yuvraj was also a handy left-arm spinner, and picked up 111 wickets in ODIs at an economy rate of 5.1. His best run with the ball in hand came in India's victorious 2011 World Cup campaign, where he was the fourth-highest wicket-taker with 15 scalps to his name. In the process, he also became the first player to score a 50 and claim a 5-for in a World Cup game.
Since he lost his place in the Indian team, Virat Kohli's team have been unable to replace the dynamic batsman at the No. 4 slot. Yuvraj's useful bowling has also been missed, with the lack of a capable 6th bowler evident in many games.
#2 Sourav Ganguly
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly scored 11,363 runs in just 311 ODIs, at an average of 41.02 and a strike rate of 73.7. Apart from his inspiring leadership, the left-hander was also very capable with the ball in hand, and picked up exactly 100 wickets at an economy rate of 5.06.
Dada was a useful medium-pacer who had the knack of picking up crucial wickets and even took two 5-wicket hauls in ODIs. One of these 5-fors was a spectacular 5/16 against arch-rivals Pakistan in the 3rd ODI of the 1997 Sahara Cup.
Ganguly left behind a legacy that cannot be represented adequately in numbers, with his impact on Indian cricket transcending statistics. But what the stats do show is that the current BCCI President was a highly underrated al-rounder.
#1 Sachin Tendulkar
When a young Sachin Tendulkar approached Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation with the aspiration of becoming a fast bowler, the Aussie great advised him to focus on his batting, which was precocious at the time. But the Master Blaster could have become a successful bowler had he concentrated on honing his abilities at the other end of the pitch.
In his legendary 463-ODI career, Tendulkar scored 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83 and strike rate of 86.23, with 49 hundreds - these are stats everyone knows. But the great man also scalped 154 victims at an economy rate of 5.1, with two 5-fors to his name.
Bowling all three of medium pace, off-spin, and leg-spin, Tendulkar bamboozled the best of batsmen over the course of his international career. Had the weight of expectations on his shoulders from a batting perspective been slightly lesser, we could have seen the man from Mumbai become one of the best all-rounders of all time.