Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award is the highest sporting award given in the country and so far 45 sportspersons have been able to win it since it was instituted in 1991-92. Chess champion Vishwanathan Anand was the first player while Sachin Tendulkar was the first cricketer to win this prestigious award. Out of those 45 sportspersons, only 4 (with Rohit Sharma being the latest entry) have been cricketers and we take a look at those 4 cricketers to win the award in this article.
Sachin Tendulkar : 1997-98
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar was the first cricketer to be conferred with this award back in 1997-98. Sachin, who debuted in 1989 had made quite a mark for himself in this 7 years period and that is evident from the fact that he had scored a total of 20 centuries, 10 each in ODIs and Tests by that time.
Sachin has been crowned with so many prestigious sporting awards and even with Bharat Ratna post his retirement but this was the first major award he had received. Sachin had scored nearly 8000 runs when he was awarded with Khel Ratna.
MS Dhoni : 2007-08
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the second recipient among cricketers to get this award. Dhomi had received this award in 2007 which was only 3 years after he made his international debut. Although the wicket keeper batsman was still looking to establish himself at the international level, it was his captaincy which made him the biggest contender for this award.
India had just won the WT20 2007 in South Africa and that became the primary reason behind him getting awarded with Khel Ratna. With the bat, he had scored just above 4000 runs by this period.
Virat Kohli : 2018
It took another 11 years for a cricketer to be awarded with the Khel Ratna and it was none other than current Indian captain and comfortably the best batsman in the world Virat Kohli who richly deserved this award because of all his performances over the years. Unlike the other two in this list, Kohli had established himself as the world’s best by the time he received this award.
After making his debut in 2008, Kohli played 320 international matches and scored more than 16000 runs with 52 international tons in this 10 years period. The Indian captain had earlier also received the Padma Shri a year ago in 2017.
Rohit Sharma : 2020
Indian opener Rohit Sharma is the latest cricketer to receive this award. After getting the opportunity to open in 2013, his stature has grown immensely in limited overs cricket and today he has become the best opener and one of the best batsmen in the world when it comes to white ball cricket. Sharma’s performance in 2019 also helped his cause where he scored 2442 international runs with 10 hundreds. He also had an excellent world cup where he scored 5 centuries and was the top scorer in the tournament.
Sharma, till now has scored more than 13000 international runs in 357 international matches with 38 centuries. He has started to find his groove in Test cricket as well where he has often struggled all these years.