Former Australia captain Ian Chappell reckons that the quality of opposition bowlers that the famed pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly faced during their careers makes them India’s best ever ODI pair.

Chappell argues that the during the majority of their careers, Tendulkar and Ganguly had to deal with the fast bowlers of the likes of Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath, Allan Donald among others.

“An argument could be mounted that Kohli and Sharma are India’s best ever one-day batsmen. The obvious challengers would be the feted combination of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, who tormented international bowlers for 15 years,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.

He continued, “They (Tendulkar-Ganguly) spent bulk of that time opening together against some of the best fast-bowling combinations. Facing Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis from Pakistan; Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh of West Indies; Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee of Australia; Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock for South Africa; Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka was a serious test of a batsman’s skill. On the basis of the quality of the opposition, you’d have to lean towards Tendulkar and Ganguly.”

But he does feel that provided Kohli and Rohit manage to play the same number of innings as Tendulkar and Ganguly, statistically they will surpass their seniors. “However, if you extrapolate their current figures to give Kohli the same number of innings as Tendulkar, and Sharma the equal of Ganguly, the current pair finish well in front,” he said.

Calling them four of the best limited-overs batsmen of all time, Chappell then went on to elaborate their unique strengths. “Indian fans have been extremely fortunate to witness, close up, four of the best short-form batsmen of all time,” Chappell wrote.

“With Tendulkar it was his all-round mastery of the art but he never ceased to amaze with his back-foot forcing shots on bouncy pitches for a man short in stature. When he was going there was no better off-side player than Ganguly; his drives, so effortlessly played, would pierce even the most crowded cover field,” he added.

On Kohli and Rohit, he wrote, “It’s not so much the huge scores that stamp Kohli’s class but the regularity of his success. He punishes bowlers all round the wicket by keeping the ball on the ground the bulk of the time. Thanks to him eliminating a lot of the risk in batting, his scores are consistently high but still amassed at a good rate.

“Sharma, on the other hand, tends to play risk-free cricket early on, but once he gets motoring, it’s a case of ‘watch out in the stands’. While he does not exude muscle power like Chris Gayle, Sharma hits nearly as many sixes per innings and has a higher strike rate.”