The Indian opener Rohit Sharma has become the fourth Indian cricketer to have won the Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna Award which is the highest sporting honour in India. So far, there have been 27 players from different sports who have been honoured with this most prestigious award, but out of those 26 players, only four have been cricketers.
Here are the three other cricketers who got Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna Award before Rohit –
#1 Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar was the first ever cricketer to receive the Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. The little master was nominated for the award after his famous desert storm in 1998 where he guided the Indian team to the title triumph in the Coca Cola Cup against Australia.
Tendulkar had proved his mettle as a cricketer on several occasions before that, but the way he dominated the best bowlers in the world in Sharjah in 1998, it was magical. He almost single-handedly won the trophy for the Indian team there.
#2 Mahendra Singh Dhoni
The second in the list is the former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who only recently retired from international cricket. Dhoni first burst onto the scene in 2004 and he made a name for himself with some whirlwind centuries in the first couple of years of his international career.
But, it was after he won the T20 World Cup in 2007 with a young group of players in South Africa that the world realized his leadership potential. Dhoni, then, went on to win a triangular series in Australia just a year later and it was the first time ever that India had beaten Australia in the best of three finals in their own backyard.
In 2007, the government of India recognized Dhoni’s contribution both as a wicket-keeper batsman and as a captain and honoured him with the Khel Ratna.
#3 Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli was awarded the Khel Ratna only a couple of years ago in 2018 when he returned from South Africa, having guided the Indian team to an emphatic ODI series win on the South African soil. Virat, thereafter, also went on to become the first Indian captain ever to win a Test series against Australia in Australia.
Virat was given the Khel Ratna not just for his captaincy, but for his batting. The current Indian captain has unarguably been the best batsman in the world across all three formats of the game in the last 5 years.
Sachin Tendulkar’s record of scoring 100 international hundreds, which seemed to be unbreakable at one stage, seems well within Virat’s reach now as the 31-year old has already scored as many as 70 hundreds in international cricket and given his consistency, it can be safely assumed that he will be able to score 30 more hundreds in the remaining 5 or 6 years of his international career.