Yashasvi Jaiswal is one of India's best 10 batsmen of all-time – and Sachin Tendulkar is not No 1

India's Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrates after scoring a double century (200 runs) during the fourth day of the third Test cricket match between India and England at the Niranjan Shah Stadium in Rajkot on February 18, 2024

Here are the 10 most brilliant Indian batsmen that I have seen. I would love to have watched KS Ranjitsinhji, his nephew KS Duleepsinhji, and the Nawab of Pataudi junior, who all won Blues and played county cricket, and Vijay Merchant who founded the Bombay school of batting while averaging 71 in first-class cricket, second only to Sir Donald Bradman.

But I have seen the rest, and reckon Yashasvi Jaiswal has just entered this elite company. Indian batsmanship differs from England or Australia: less leading elbow and forearm, more square-of-the-wicket. More wristy. More stylish.

Here is Telegraph Sport’s top 10 ...

10. Yashasvi Jaiswal

The only lefthander in this list, although the audacious Risabh Pant will hopefully join it once he recovers from his car accident. Has anyone ever had quicker wrists than India’s new opener? He could surely twirl a bat even faster than Ravi Jadeja does on reaching 50.

By using those wrists in the third Test he equalled the world Test record of 12 sixes in one innings. He seems to be a complete Test batsman already on Indian pitches, with two double-hundreds already. The big test will come when the ball is flying around his ears in Australia next winter but he seems to have the hand-eye coordination to cope.

9. Gundappa Viswanath

A “vish come true” was how he was heralded in India in the 1970s. Under 5’ 6” he could cut anything outside offstump, off any length, whether square or late.

England had three in-fielders and a sweeper for his cutting in Madras in the 1981-82 Test and he still kept piercing the field to reach the highest innings to that point for India against England; 222. Delightful all round as a batsman and person, and at his best when West Indies were at their best.

8. Rahul Dravid

Very compact, solid and defensive for much of his career, but he blossomed - in front of English eyes at any rate - when he educated us in the way to play spin. Do not work every offbreak “with the spin” to the legside where the majority of fielders are. Instead, hit it straight, back in the direction it came from after pitching eg drive it off the front or back foot through extra-cover.

Dravid gracefully re-defined our understanding of playing against spin and thereby eases ahead of another handsome number three, Dilip Vengsarkar.

7. VVS Laxman

A player of great innings - his 281 in the follow-on against Australia in Calcutta was arguably the greatest of all time in Tests, or the equal of Ben Stokes’s 135* at Headingley - rather than a great player, perhaps because he happened to be good at batting rather than obsessed with it.

What brought out the best in him was the ball bouncing about waist-height: those steely wrists would then cut or whip the ball legside. Three of his 17 Test hundreds were made when the ball was bouncing around waist-height in Sydney; none, unfortunately, in England where it jagged around.

6. Rohit Sharma

A delight to the eye as a Sunil Gavaskar-like embodiment of orthodox strokeplay, such as in his sumptuous 131 in the third Test of this series. No trigger movements beyond a flexing of his toes; no chest-on stabbing with the back shoulder taking over.

He has so much time he hooks off the front foot, even if the strokeplay - real stroking, never trying to hit the ball too hard - has yet to be completely fulfilled in Tests. His finest format has been the 50-over international: he was the first person to score two double-centuries in ODIs, and has hit three of the eight so far.

5. Mohammed Azharuddin

In 1984 this spindly student ambled out and in each of his first three Tests scored a century against England. To English eyes it was geometry gone wild: the ball always disappeared at right angles to where it had come from. And the straight ball was equally likely to disappear through point or square-leg.

During his hundred in Chennai on a glassy surface, against two good England spinners in Pat Pocock and Phil Edmonds, Azhar became almost giddy at how easy batting could be. His wrists must have been tungsten. Dark times followed, according to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, but his batting was breathtaking.

4. Sachin Tendulkar

Never forget how strong he was: to make up for his size at school he would beat all-comers at arm-wrestling. This strength, and arguably the best of all cricket brains, enabled him to be the first Indian batsman to conquer in Australia as, intent on dominating their pace attack, he went up on his back foot and blazed away. His century at Perth in 1992 was one of the modern marvels and other early innings were dazzling to behold.

The later Tendulkar was more intent on accumulation, and on numbers, like reaching 100 international centuries - which eventually came in a match-losing innings against Bangladesh - and 200 Tests, which he eventually did: not so thrilling to behold.

3. Virat Kohli

The fittest of India’s Test batsmen, one suspects, and consequently a less aesthetic, or a more virile style, than most. His extra-cover drive, his signature-shot, is more physical than Joe Root’s, to which he adds a flick of his wrists in the final flourish.

Kohli is also the most charismatic of Indian cricketers, the most expressive, the most emotional - which did not make him a great captain tactically - and also the fastest between wickets. His finest format, you would have to say, is the ODI - 50 centuries, and an average of 58, at almost a run a ball - for all his Test exploits in Australia.

2. Sunil Gavaskar

No right-hander was easier on the eye than Gavaskar in full flow. Until recent times at any rate he was the man to open the batting with Sir Jack Hobbs for the World XI vs. Mars. He was like Rohit Sharma in that he was an embodiment of orthodoxy except that he kept the ball on the ground.

Sometimes, however, he switched to negative mode and did not use his gifts: most notoriously, his unbeaten 36 off 174 balls against England in the 1975 World Cup. At his best, though, he was perfection, notably when I saw his century off 94 balls in New Delhi against West Indies that equalled Bradman’s record of 29 Test hundreds, when his driving on both sides of the wicket was magical.

1. Virender Sehwag

He raised the bar by scoring faster than any specialist batsman in Test history - five runs an over or 82 per 100 balls. He produced masterpieces like 319 off 304 balls vs. South Africa and 293 off 254 vs. Sri Lanka, by showing the bowler his stumps and using his hands, forearms and wrists to hit straight balls offside as never before. He did not succeed in England: in fact he scored only five Test hundreds outside Asia where he averaged 57 while going like an express train.

But the clincher for me was a Bangalore Test against England. Ashley Giles was bowling over the wicket and into the rough, and while Tendulkar was strokeless, kicking the ball away, Sehwag was running down the pitch to hit him inside-out over extra-cover - does any stroke involve the coordination of so many muscles? - or anywhere else he fancied. Genius.