A couple of years ago, Buck and I decided to come up with our top 10 Test innings by an Indian batsman (individual). The criteria were simple - they had to be innings that were more than just numbers; they had to be innings that were enhanced by the context and their influence on the fortunes of the Indian team (and its future) and, a final caveat, these would have to be innings that we either heard/watched/read about by us as they occurred (therefore, innings played pre-1980 were not included).
We each came up with a list of 10 innings and did not know of the other's choices till we had both made ours. I went through my list recently and realized that my feelings were still the same and the many Indian innings that have followed since then have not (as of yet) displaced any on that list (some by Sehwag and Dravid have come close but did not quite displace the ones I picked).
Here are Buck's top 10 with his views on some of them (I have linked to the Tests should you wish to see the scorecard for those innings).
10. Sachin Tendulkar's 169 for a lost cause in South Africa in 1997 (when he did one of the important things required of a good innings - he was the last man out after adding 19 for the last wicket with a tailender who made 2).
9. Mohammad Azharuddin's breathtaking 109 of 70-odd ball s at Eden Gardens against South Africa in 1996 in a lost cause - barely makes it to this list because he did not adjust his batting once it became apparent he had a worthwhile partner in Kumble who was last out at 88.
8. VVS Laxman's 75 in Brisbane - prefer it to the pair of centuries he had later in this series and the 167 in the prior series (in terms of breathtaking innings for a lost cause, the 167 ranks behind Azhar's knock above and also his crazy 115 of 110 balls in S Africa in 1997 when he overshadowed skipper Tendulkar completely before being run out of all things ).
7. Gundappa Viswanath's 114 at Melbourne against Australia 1981.
6. Dilip Vengsarkar's 102 at Headingley (Leeds), vs England 1986 - I remember this as a superior innings to a century he made at Lords in the same series, but of course Lords being Lords, that one has received more play over the years...
5. Sachin Tendulkar's 241 at Sydney in 2003 v/s Australia - especially like the fact that he did not get out finally.
4. Sachin Tendulkar's 114 at Perth in 1992 v/s Australia (India lost this game but this is, in my opinion, his greatest test innings to date - even more than his double century) - fastest wicket in the world, young Sachin, etc...
3. Mohammad Azharuddin's 163 at Kanpur in December 1996 gainst South Africa.
2. Rahul Dravid's 233 at Adelaide v/s Australia - long innings that won a test - also his greatest test double century in my opinion (poor guy - so many of his great knocks ended up with him playing second fiddle that it detracts from him a bit. I was tempted to include the 91* in a later Test in the series but this is a greater innings).
1. VVS Laxman's 281 - enough said.
My list shall follow in the next post. As always, I will be interested in your opinions (and maybe your top 10, too. You will find that these lists are harder to make than you'd think).