In a nation of more than a billion people, earning a spot in the playing-11 is the dream of every cricket enthusiast. Leading the team on the international stage is considered an even greater honour. Of the 301 cricketers who have played for India in the longest format of the game, only 33 earned the privilege of captaining the team. There are some players, however, who have been so instrumental to the team in spite of never earning the chance to captain the team.
Here are three Indian cricketers with the most Test caps to have never captained the team:
#3: Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma, the right-arm fast bowler from Delhi, nicknamed ‘Lambu’, has played the third-most Test matches without captaining the Indian team. Often India’s lead seamer in away matches, the Delhi lad has played 97 matches so far under six different captains over the last 12 years.
Sharma has dismissed 297 batsmen in his often injury-prone career, with 11 five-wicket hauls to his name. His best spell of 7/74 came against England at Lord’s in 2014. Sharma has also appeared for India 80 ODIs and 14 T20Is for India with mixed results, picking up 115 and 8 wickets respectively.
Often compared to Javagal Srinath for his lean build and high-arm action, Ishant has finally come of age in recent times, leading India’s seam quartet all over the world. He is second behind the great Anil Kumble in terms of wickets picked outside Asia. Ishant has been a part of 20 wins in overseas Test matches, the second joint-highest with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, with only Rahul Dravid having more overseas wins under his belt.
#2: Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh, the off-spinner from Punjab occupies the second spot with the most Test caps not to have captained the team. ‘Paaju’, as he is fondly called, has represented India in 103 Test matches.
Harbhajan Singh has taken a spectacular 417 wickets in Test matches at an average of 32.46. He boasts 25 five-wicket hauls to his name, with his best performance of 8/84 coming against Australia at Chepauk in March 2001. The right-arm off-break bowler formed a lethal spin duo with Anil Kumble, at times even out-bowling the legend. With his attacking style and prowess with the bat, Singh soon replaced Kumble in limited-overs cricket as well. Harbhajan Singh also represented India in 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is, bagging 269 and 25 wickets respectively.
Harbhajan Singh is also known for his controversial behaviour on-field. From calling the Australian batsmen Andrew Symonds a monkey to slapping Sreesanth in the IPL, the Punjabi bowler has often been in the news for his outlandish behaviour.
#1: VVS Laxman
“If I had not got that kind of acknowledgement I wouldn’t have played 100 Test matches. The biggest acknowledgement for me is representing the team for 100 Test matches and being part of Indian cricket for the last 12 years. What is important is what I have contributed to Indian cricket”
The versatile batsman from Hyderabad holds the record for playing the most Test matches without captaining the team – a total of 134 matches under seven captains. His Test caps are only behind Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid for the country.
Laxman scored 8781 runs in Tests, averaging 45.97, batting at middle or lower middle order – a spectacular feat by any measure. The legend is known more for his artistic style than his numbers, being overshadowed in a star-studded team. The partnership he built with Rahul Dravid against Australia is perhaps his most memorable innings. VVS Laxman also represented India in 86 ODIs, scoring 2338 runs at an average of 30.76.
Laxman’s performances against Australia were particularly spectacular – six out of his 17 Test hundreds came against the Aussies. His personal-best of 281 at Eden Gardens and 200 not out at Feroz Shah Kotla both came against the all-conquering Steve Waugh’s men.
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