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Top 10 Indian Openers With The Most Runs In Test Cricket

image-lrxc4v1iGautam Gambhir (L) and Virender Sehwag (R) (X.com)

Opening the innings in Test cricket against the hard new red ball is one of the toughest tasks in the game, and there’s a good reason why you'll find very few openers among the top run-getters. Sir Alastair Cook stands as the only opener in the top five run-getters in Test cricket, followed by Sunil Gavaskar at the 14th position.

India has produced some of the greatest Test batters the world of cricket has ever seen, including Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Azharuddin, and Virender Sehwag.

However, most of these batting legends have played in the middle order. Although the Indian Test teams usually had very strong batting lineups, the opener's slot was often a weak link. During the late 70s and 80s, it was the great Sunil Gavaskar who used to carry his team alone on his shoulders while opening the batting. Chetan Chauhan was Gavaskar's longest-serving opening partner in Test cricket, and the two played 59 innings together in the red-ball format. Chauhan provided decent support for a brief period. Then came Navjot Singh Sidhu, but after that, for a long time, it was all about the middle order, comprising the likes of Tendulkar and Azharuddin. 

Post-2000, Virender Sehwag emerged and changed the landscape of Indian cricket. After him, many openers followed. He made everyone believe that scoring runs at the top of the order is not very tough. Subsequently, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, and others joined the list. Now, the question arises: who among them has scored the most runs while opening the batting? In this article, we list down the top ten Test batters who have accumulated the most runs as an opener.

10) Chetan Chauhan- 2069 Runs

image-lrxc63dzChetan Chauhan (X.com)

Gavaskar’s enduring partner, the right-handed Chetan Chauhan, amassed 2069 runs in 67 Test innings at an average of 31.83. He also notched up 16 half-centuries in his Test career. Chauhan's highest Test score was 97 runs, achieved in a Test match against Australia in January 1981. Chetan, who played Test cricket for India from 1969 to 1981, is positioned in the 10th spot on this list and was always recognized for his resilient approach.

9) Rohit Sharma- 2176 runs

image-lrxc7fu9Rohit Sharma (X.com)

Having made his debut as an opener in 2019 during the Test series at home against South Africa, Rohit Sharma has undergone a remarkable journey as a red-ball cricket opener. His evolution from struggling to secure a spot in the starting XI to becoming an integral part of the playing XI and now leading the Test team illustrates Rohit's ability to succeed in all conditions against various types of attacks. The ‘Hitman’ has batted as an opener in 46 innings, accumulating 2176 runs to his name.

8) Pankaj Roy- 2220 runs

image-lrxc7x9vPankaj Roy (AP)

Pankaj Roy amassed 2220 runs in Tests for India in the opening position. The late Indian cricketer played Test cricket for India from 1951 to 1960. In 74 innings, he scored 2220 runs at an average of 31.71.

The right-handed batter also registered 4 centuries and 9 fifties in Tests, with the highest knock of 173 in a Test encounter against New Zealand in January 1956. He holds the eighth position in this list.

7) Shikhar Dhawan- 2315 runs

image-lrxc8wuaShikhar Dhawan (X.com)

Out-of-favor Indian opener, Shikhar Dhawan also secures a spot on this compilation. Dhawan made a memorable entry into the Test arena by scoring a hundred on debut against Australia while opening the innings. Throughout his career, the left-hander has exclusively played as an opener in all Test matches. 

In 58 innings, the 35-year-old batsman has accumulated 2315 runs at an average of 40.61. Dhawan has notched up 7 centuries and 5 half-centuries in Tests. His highest Test score of 190 runs was achieved in a game against Sri Lanka in July 2017. His last Test appearance was in September 2018.

6) KL Rahul- 2551 runs

image-lrxc9t19KL Rahul (X.com)

KL Rahul claims the sixth position in this listicle. As an opener, the Karnataka-based batter has amassed 2551 runs in Tests thus far. Despite being an active cricketer, with the emergence of top-order batters like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill, it seems that his Test career as an opener is finished, and he will now only play in the middle-order.

The right-handed batter made his debut as an opener in January 2015, scoring a century in the encounter against Australia in Sydney. While opening, he crafted many memorable hundreds on foreign soil. His highest individual score in Tests is 199 runs, achieved in a Test match against England in December 2016.

5) Navjot Singh Sidhu- 2911 runs

image-lrxcbencNavjot Singh Sidhu (X.com)

Navjot Singh Sidhu secures the fifth position in this compilation. The former opener accumulated 2911 runs while opening for India. Playing Test matches for India from 1983 to 1999, the right-handed batsman recorded 2911 runs at an average of 42.81 in 69 Test innings as an opener.

Sidhu also crafted 8 centuries and 15 half-centuries when batting as an opener. His highest individual score in Tests was 201 runs, achieved in a match against West Indies in March 1997. Later he made a name for himself as a renowned commentator.

4) Murali Vijay- 3880 runs

image-lrxcd6doMurali Vijay (AP)

Regarded as one of the more dependable openers produced by India, especially in away conditions, Murali Vijay took part in 105 Test innings throughout his career, with 100 of them as an opener. The right-handed batsman secured the 4th position in this ranking by amassing 3880 runs in 100 Test innings as an opener.

Maintaining a batting average of 39.19 as an opener, the Indian player also registered 12 centuries and 15 half-centuries in Tests, all of which occurred when he opened the innings for India. His highest individual score was 167 runs, achieved in a match against Australia in 2013. Vijay’s last Test appearance was in 2018.

3) Gautam Gambhir- 4119 runs

image-lrxchtknGautam Gambhir. (X.com)

One of the most successful openers for India in his era, Gambhir achieved the remarkable feat of being ranked number one in Test cricket in 2009, a distinction not achieved by many Indian cricketers. The left-handed batsman batted in 104 Test innings during his career, with 101 of them as an opener. He accumulated 4119 runs in these 101 innings as an opener at an average of 42.91.

The southpaw also notched up 9 centuries and 22 half-centuries in Tests while batting as an opener. His highest individual score in Tests was a double century of 206 runs, achieved against Australia in October 2008.

2) Virender Sehwag- 8207 runs

image-lrxcjg2yVirender Sehwag (X.com)

As mentioned earlier, Sehwag revolutionized the approach to playing Test cricket. His career strike rate of 82.2 demonstrates that he approached the red-ball game more akin to the white-ball game. Sehwag was a name that instilled fear in the minds of bowlers, particularly spinners. The dynamic opener represented India in 104 Tests from 2001 to 2013, primarily batting as an opener in 170 innings, amassing 8207 runs at an impressive average of 50.04.

In Tests, the former opener also notched up 22 centuries and 30 half-centuries. His highest Test innings was a triple century of 319 runs, achieved in a Test against South Africa in March 2008. He stands second on the list.

1. Sunil Gavaskar- 9607 runs

image-lrxckvt0Sunil Gavaskar (AP)

Affectionately known as the "Little Master," Gavaskar demonstrated exceptional skills and courage against the formidable West Indian attack of the 1970s and '80s, leaving an enduring impact on the game. With an illustrious international career spanning 16 years, the legendary batter has made truly legendary contributions to Indian cricket.

Gavaskar's statistics speak volumes about his batting prowess. In Test cricket, he participated in 125 matches and accumulated an impressive 10,122 runs, including 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries. His ability to convert starts into big scores was a hallmark of his batting. Since his debut in 1971, Gavaskar served as an opener for India in 199 Tests until his Test career concluded in 1987. In 203 innings as an opener, the right-handed batsman amassed 9607 runs at an average of 50.29.

While batting as an opener in Tests, he also recorded 33 centuries and 42 half-centuries. His highest Test innings was an unbeaten 236 runs, and as an opener, his highest Test score was 221 runs.