DC's top 5 Test batsmen of last 2 decades

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting recently said Brian Lara, owing to his inherent ability to turn the tide in his team's favour within the blink of an eye, was probably the better batsman than Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar. Ponting, himself, one of the all-time greats in cricket, opined that the end result of the game and a player's contribution to it mattered more than the number of runs against the name of the player in the scoreboard.
Keeping this mind, we bring the list of five greatest batsmen who have graced the game of cricket in the last two decades:
Sachin Tendulkar: 198 Tests; 15,837 runs; 51 hundreds

A statistician's delight and the undisputed champion of close to a billion hearts, Sachin Tendulkar will probably go down in the history of the game as its greatest achiever. Unlike his Caribbean rival, Tendulkar was not all about swagger and entertainment. Not that he failed in those departments, but, in his case, it was about carrying the burdens of an an entire country almost each and every time he walked out to bat. However, idealists might have argued that Tendulkar ought to have gone about his job regardless of the burden of expectations, even they would have sympathised with his plight. An instinctively attacking batsman, Tendulkar's trademark strokes were the straight drives, the back-foot punch through the covers and the upper-cut among several others. There were periods in his career when he had to curb his attacking instincts in order to prolong his stay at the crease so that he could guide his team towards safety. That, even after 24 years, Tendulkar continues to play the game with unmatched fervour alone is testimony to his everlasting greatness.
Brian Lara: 131 Tests; 11,953 runs; 34 hundreds

The first image that a patron of cricket is bound to conjure up in his mind at the very mention of the name is that of Brian Lara shuffling in the crease and the unusually high backlift with the willow poised to strike the ball. It was an image that, apart from inspiring awe, was one that personified the regality that Lara seemed to be so full of. The 'Prince of Trinidad' was probably the most stylish left-handed batsman of his generation. The elan and grace that Lara played with was incomparable.
Ponting's argument about Lara's abiltity to turn the match in his team's favour in less than half-an-hour might sound like bosh and nonsense. But it was no exaggeration. Lara could exercise absolute control over the strokes he played and he could play them all. A strong player on either side of the wicket and particularly effective when he played of the back-foot, Lara, on more than one occasion, guided his team to victory single-handedly. The most memorable one being his 153 not out at Barbados against a formidable Australian team in 1999 when, batting along with a No.11 batsman, he guided West Indies to one of its greatest win.
Ricky Ponting: 168 Tests; 13,378 runs; 41 hundreds

Truculent, yet elegant. That was Ricky Ponting. Swollen with bellicosity though he was, Ponting was a sheer delight to behold. His behaviour on the field never did win him many friends, but even the most nasty of his foes will not grudge him a place in the pantheon of all-time greats. A compulsive puller and hooker, Ponting was at his best when he was playing pacers and more than just slightly vulnerable against high-quality spinners. A batsman, who was very tentative at the start of the innings, Ponting was practically unstoppable once he had settled down. At his best when he was playing square of the wicket, there are few sights in cricket that are more beautiful than Ponting's square cut, a stroke that he executed with almost surgical precision.
Rahul Dravid: 164 Tests; 13288 runs; 36 hundreds

'The Wall', 'Mr. Dependable'... so on. The list of sobriquets that Dravid earned in the course of his 16-year-long Test career is endless. If Tendulkar was the hull of the Indian ship, then Dravid was its anchor. The luminousity of Tendulkar's aura often obscured Dravid's somewhat less glamourous achievements but it was on his shoulders that India rode more often. If there was one series in which Dravid's greatest qualities were exemplified, it was the bilateral series between India and England in 2011. In a series where no other batsman scored more than 275 runs, Dravid scored three tons and amassed 461 runs. India ended up losing all four Tests in the series, but Dravid found himself wreathed in laurels.
Steve Waugh: 168 Tests; 10,927 runs; 32 hundreds

While Ponting was the very epitome of grace, Steve Waugh was the personification of grit. Aesthetically speaking, the two Australians were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. But, in the end, both were match-winners. The tenacity with which Waugh fought for his team's cause was truly remarkable. Watching an innings by Waugh when his team was crumbling under pressure was equivalent to sitting in a classroom listening to a discourse on the qualities of perseverance and determination.

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