5 most underrated Indian cricketers – BJ Sports

Sanju Samson. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Cricket continues to grow and a helping hand from the media has boosted its popularity globally. Only a handful of nations play Test cricket but T20 cricket, the latest and shortest format, has proved to be revolutionary in the game’s growth. 

However, despite the sport gaining popularity, some cricketers remain overshadowed due to different reasons. Some Indian cricketers achieved great success but were overshadowed by the popularity of their teammates. Cricket is clearly a numbers game but there are many cricketers who didn’t get the recognition they deserve despite having good or comparatively better numbers than others.

Here are five underrated Indian cricketers:

5. Wasim Jaffer

Wasim Jaffer remains the leading run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy history with 12038 runs, almost 3000 more than the second-highest Amol Mazumdar. He also leads the century chart with 40 centuries and is only cricketer to score 1000-plus runs in an edition of the tournament on two occasions. 

These numbers are simply phenomenal and give him a top spot in legends of India’s domestic cricket. But with this amazing resume, Jaffer managed to earn only 31 Test and two ODI caps for India. One can argue that the player himself failed to make an impact despite being given chances.

He scored 1944 runs at an average of 34.10 with five centuries in Test cricket for India. But those 31 Test appearances were spanned across nine years. Only 31 matches in nine years to judge the player’s achievement is a bit harsh, but that did not happen with a player for the first time. 

4. Mayank Agarwal

One of the most talented cricketers in this list, Mayank Agarwal enjoyed a brief stint with India’s red-ball team but is not in the fold currently despite being at his peak. The prolific batter is among the few cricketers with a similar impact in both Test and white-ball cricket, but is the victim of competition in the current Indian team.

Mayank, 32, made his Test debut against Australia in 2018, and scored 76 runs, the highest score by an Indian cricketer on his debut in Australia. He has scored 1488 runs from just 36 Test innings at an average of 41.33 with four centuries, including two double tons. 

He last played Test in March 2022 and has not been considered for the national team despite consistently scoring runs in domestic cricket. Comparing his numbers with KL Rahul’s (2642 runs at 33.44) and Shubman Gill’s (736 runs at 32), one may feel Agarwal deserved more chances.

3. Sanju Samson

The youngest player on this list, Samson made his international debut in 2015. However, he has managed to play only 28 matches so far. Samson emerged on the scenes due to his consistent performances for Rajasthan Royals in Indian Premier League and the 28-year-old wicketkeeper batter was tipped to be the successor to MS Dhoni. 

But he never received a continuous run in the team. Notably, he is not part of India’s upcoming ODI series against Australia as well. With Rishabh Pant sidelined for a long period, it seemed Samson would have featured in both ODIs and T20Is. However, the management instead chose Ishan Kishan as the first-choice wicketkeeper.

Samson’s numbers, compared to Pant and Kishan, are impressive enough to start a debate. Samson has not got much acknowledgment or support from the management yet, but he continues to be humble.

2. Murali Vijay

Another domestic stalwart in the list, Murali Vijay managed to get decent opportunities and put in his best efforts to justify with numbers. But the recently retired top-order batter never got the recognition he deserved.

With 3982 runs from 61 Tests at an average of almost 40, Vijay was involved in many impactful innings throughout his career. His biggest impact came against the mighty Australian team and that too in red-ball cricket. He scored 1324 runs at an average of 47.28 from 15 Tests against Australia, including to back-to-back 150s.

All his 12 Test centuries came while playing as opener, and he is only behind Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag in the list of openers with most centuries for India. But very few appreciated his contribution and fewer thanked the player for his service when he announced retirement in January 2023.

1. Ajit Agarkar

Ajit Agarkar, the right-arm medium pacer, made his debut in 1998 but survived only nine years in international cricket. Agarkar took more ODI wickets with a better bowling average than his pace partner Zaheer Khan and is still the third-highest leading wicket-taker in ODIs for India, with 288 wickets from 188 innings at an average of 27.85.

Agarkar also has the best bowling average and strike rate among the top five wicket-takers in ODIs. In another unique record, he is the only Indian bowler to take 10 four-wicket hauls in ODIs, not even spin legend Anil Kumble managed to achieve that.

Apart from his achievement with the ball, Agarkar holds the record for the fastest fifty in ODIs by an Indian cricketer. He smashed a 21-ball half-century against Zimbabwe in Rajkot in 2000. Agarkar also scored a century in Tests and that too against England at The Lord’s in 2002. But despite all these achievements, he was never rated as highly as his counterparts.

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