Do you know what it takes to be fearless against those raging bullets (read balls) being hurled at you at 145 plus clicks and then rattling your grille? Maybe you don’t. Do you know what it takes to dance down the pitch and take out the most intimidating spinner of all time with his deliveries drifting left and right and leaving the others dazzled?
It takes a soul forged and beaten by Hephaestus, an intent shaped like that of Virender Sehwag, aggression like that of Saurav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh, a technique like that of Virat Kohli and a cool head under pressure like that of MS Dhoni.
Sounds like we are building a superhero who will put his powers to the test against the mighty Darkseid willing to snuff out the world once and for all? Actually, we are going to tell you a tale. A tale that will celebrate the likes of five fearless batters that Indian cricket has ever produced.
Even before I start the piece, let me give you a quick heads-up that we are going to mention Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath in the honourable mentions. During those times, they would face intimidating fast bowlers without a helmet and its precise specifications bespoken to save the life of a batsman.
However, this piece comprises the batters who had unwavering guts, seemed unfazed even under the worst of ordeals and most importantly showed resolute character in the face of fear to become India’s most fearless.
#1 Saurav Ganguly
In the infamous match at Wankhede where Flintoff ran frenetically, waving his jersey in the air and the incident which led to the famous Lords T-shirt waving in the stands, there was a time when Hoggard mocked Ganguly for his amulet.
The next couple of balls whizzed to the boundary with Dada looking at Hoggard in the eye and winking at him. Stuart Broad wanted to mess with his head and the next thing he knew was Ganguly standing with a waving bat at him, showing him his rightful place. Muralitharan and Saqlain Mushtaq were shown the exit in the harshest ways when Ganguly would have danced down the pitch effortlessly and hammered those titanic sixes, underlining the fact in the most blazing colours that he took fear to his opponents.
#2 Virat Kohli
I do not know whether it’s the fact that India isn’t chasing for a while that Virat hasn’t been performing at his sublime best. The Indian skipper had a special taste for performing under pressure, may it be in India or Australia or any ICC event. It felt as if he was India’s guardian angel, personally delivered to take them home. In fact, in the World Cup 2011 final, despite Dhoni, Yuvraj and Gambhir helping India to claim the trophy, it was this man’s special cameo that helped them to stabilize the ship.
If you would remember the 2016 T20 World Cup, Kohli played a very special knock against Australia in a do-or-die match to help India reach the semis. In fact, in semis, it was once again Kohli dictating the podium with some captivating strokes that left the Caribbean force worried. His fastest century in ODI cricket saw Sri Lanka being dismantled piece by piece and left humiliated. He doesn’t care what lies ahead of him. Once he gets his eyes in, it is all assault on the bowlers from thereon.
#3 Virender Sehwag
There was an interview where Brett Lee confessed to walking up to Sehwag and asking him not to start with a six as it is a Test match. There was another interview where Zaheer Khan quoted that Sehwag was dejected once for getting dismissed on 194 and the sadness was because he missed a six and not his double century. An iconic incident to be reminded is when Shoaib Akhtar kept on pressing him to hit an upper. He responded by saying, “bowling kar raha hai ye bheekh mang raha hai?” (Are you bowling or begging?)
The man who always liked to open with a boundary, irrespective of the fact whether he was facing Shoaib Akhtar, Glenn Mc Grath, or Makhaya Ntini, Sehwag is indeed one of the most fearless cricketers to have walked the earth. In fact, wicket-keepers had to say that he would sing songs and smack those sixes. A story narrated by Sehwag himself said that Kamran Akmal, bored of keeping in his marathon triple-century actually placed requests of songs to be sung. Sounds like Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burns? Actually, we would call it the symphony of destruction.
#4 Yuvraj Singh
Let’s start with a known story to all about Yuvi. Andrew Flintoff made the mistake of irking the southpaw in an effort to get under his skin. The next over belonged to Stuart Broad and all the six deliveries were dispatched to the stands to consign England out of the tournament. The next fight was Yuvraj taking the war to a demon called cancer and emerging victorious.
In fact, such indomitable was his spirit that he defied his physical shortcomings to continue playing for his nation which starred impeccable performances that would eventually land him the man of the series awards. We all know that Kaif played a herculean role in helping India clinch that remarkable victory at Lords in the 2002 Natwest Final. The man who actually turned the tide after India losing half of their batting line-up within just 146 runs was Yuvraj Singh. Knowing the steepness of the total, he didn’t want to sit back and defend. He came all guns blazing at the mighty English and took them apart from the inside.
#5 MS Dhoni
Fearlessness comes in various shapes and sizes and most importantly it comes in the incarnation of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The man who shows no extensive emotions on the pitch irrespective of the situations, set the world ablaze with an extraordinary display of cricket that would even leave his opponents in awe of him.
Spanning from the helicopter shot that would shape the fortune of the 2011 World Cup final to hand over the crucial overs to Joginder Sharma and Ishant Sharma that won India the Champions Trophy in 2013 and the 2007 ICC T20 World Cup, Dhoni displayed grit that can only be conjured in folklore. After all, heroes are stuff of folklore.