1. Abhay Kuruvilla :
Possibly the tallest player to play for India at 6'6", With his well endowed physique he gave us the hope that we have finally moved from lanky bowlers like Prasad and Srinath and we now have an answer to Ambrose and Walsh. He gave us the hope that we can check speedometer values during Indian Bowling sessions as well. I remember him taking long strides in his run up, come running towards the bowling end and bowling. At the speed of 125kmph. This was an end to our hopes of an express bowler.
Though during his 1996-97 West Indies tour, Kuruvilla emerged as a key figure in the Indian attack and a haul of 5 for 68 in the second innings of the third Test at Bridgetown set up a winning position for India, but Sachin failed and the other batsmen contrived to throw it away and along with it the hope of a long career for him.
2. Nilesh Kulkarni
This tall (6'4") and lanky player from Dombivili, a suburb in Mumbai, etched a name for himself in the history books by taking a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket. This was against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1997-98. He is the only Indian bowler to achieve this feat and the 12th bowler in the history of the game. Finally we got a bowler beyond Kapil in the record books of bowling. That was cool.
He bowled 70 overs but amazingly enough that was the only Test wicket he took for he had the misfortune to bowl when the Sri Lankan batsmen set several records in running up the highest total in Tests. Read 952 runs in an inning.
3. Hrishikesh Kanitkar:
Hrishikesh Kanitkar's name will forever be linked with his winning boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq in fading light in India's memorable victory over Pakistan at Dhaka in January 1998, when the team chased a 300-plus target in the Independence Cup final. We thought that we have got a finisher, an all-rounder. A very rare commodity back then. Rarer than a keeper who could bat or opener who could touch the ball.
But this however, was the only highlights of his international career, which included two Tests and 34 one-day internationals.
4. Vijay Bharadwaj:
Coming into the national side on the back of a 1000-run domestic season, Vijay Bharadwaj was supposed to be Indian cricket's next big thing. His debut series - the LG Cup at Nairobi in 1999-2000 - suggested that there was substance behind the hype, as he took 10 wickets at 12.2 and scored 65 runs without being dismissed and was Man of the series. We were confident that he would be the person to share load of expectations with Sachin.
But a disappointing tour of Australia saw him become yesterday's news. He proved to be a second Narendra Hirwani or Vinod Kambli.
5. Ajay Ratra :
When Ajay Ratra gritted 115 not out in Antigua in 2002, he became the youngest wicketkeeper to score a Test century and the second Indian wicketkeeper to make one overseas. He was just 20 and it was only his third Test. Now we had a wicketkeeper who doesn’t get run out and scores century. That too in West Indies. Best possible thing that could happen to Indian cricket Period.
This was supposed to be a long journey but later he lost his place in the Test side to Parthiv Patel, and in the one-day side to the appointment of Rahul Dravid as keeper in the quest for balance.