The Arjuna Award is the second-highest sporting honour of India, the highest being the Khel Ratna Award. The award is named after Arjuna, one of the characters of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. Selected by a committee constituted by the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, this award honours players for “good performance in the field of national sports over a period of four years”. Salim Durani was the first player to win the Arjuna Award for Cricket.
Instituted in 1961, the Arjuna Award comprises a bronze statuette of Arjuna, certificate, ceremonial dress and a cash prize of ₹15 lakh. It is presented to the athlete by the President of India. After the 2018 amendment of the criteria, Arjuna Award is now awarded only sports included in the Olympic Games, Asia Games, Commonwealth Games, Paralympic Games, World Championship and World Cup. This also included cricket, indigenous games and parasports.
Let’s take a look at all the other cricketers who have won Arjuna awards over the decades for their brilliant contribution at the international level.
Arjuna Award for Cricket: Get the full list
|2||Deepti Sharma and Ishant Sharma||2020|
|3||Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav||2019|
|5||Harmanpreet Kaur and Cheteshwar Pujara||2017|
|16||Mithali Raj and Harbhajan Singh||2003|
|20||Rahul Dravid and Nayan Mongia||1998|
|21||Sourav Ganguly and Ajay Jadeja||1997|
|25||Manoj Prabhakar and Kiran More||1993|
|27||Sandhya Agarwal and Mohammad Azharuddin||1986|
|33||Chetan Chauhan and Syed Kirmani||1980|
|38||Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Eknath Solkar||1972|
|41||Bishan Singh Bedi||1969|
|42||Erapalli Anantharao Srinivas||1968|
|46||Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi||1964|
In 1961, Salim Durani became the first-ever cricketer to win the sports honour Arjuna Award. The all-rounder created headlines after his outstanding performance against England in 1961- 62 – his eight wickets in Calcutta and 10 in Madras helped him get nominated for the prestigious award. A slow left-arm orthodox bowler and a left-handed batsman who often hit the ball out of the park, Durani played in 29 Tests from 1960 to 1973.
In 1976, Shantha Rangaswamy became the first female cricketer to receive Arjuna Award. This was soon after she led the Indian women’s cricket team to their first-ever Test win in 1976 against the West Indies. It was a six-match Test series being played at home, and India wrote history in the first Test itself. Rangaswamy led from the front, picking up two wickets while also scoring 32 runs with the bat. Not only is Rangaswamy the first woman to lead India to a Test win, she is also the first woman to lead an Indian cricket team and the first woman to receive a lifetime achievement award from the BCCI. Rangaswamy played 16 Tests and 19 ODIs for India from 1976 to 1991, averaging 32.60 and 15.10, respectively.
One of the finest all-rounders of his time, former India captain Kapil Dev received the Arjuna Award in 1979. That was the year when he hit his first-ever century in Test cricket. The century came against the West Indies in Delhi in the fifth match of the series. The first captain to lead India to an ODI World Cup, Dev finished his career with an average of 31.05 in Tests and 23.79 in ODIs. With the ball, he picked up over 600 wickets in both the formats combined.
Sachin Tendulkar won the Arjuna Award in 1994, the year in which he scored his maiden ODI century. The Master Blaster scored the first of his 49 ODI centuries against Australia in Colombo, which helped India trump Sri Lanka by 31 runs. The greatest cricket icon for Indians, Tendulkar has a list of records to his name – most matches in a Test career (200), most centuries in Tests (51), most runs in Tests (15921), fastest to 15000 Test runs, most fifties in ODIs (145) and fastest to 18000 ODI runs among other.
Mithali Raj, captain of Indian women ODI cricket team, was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2003 for her outstanding achievement in the sport. The greatest batter to have played for Indian women’s cricket team, Raj started her career at the age of 16 and 23 years later in 2022, she continues to score match-winning knocks for India. The right-hander has a batting average of 43.68 in Tests, 51.12 in ODIs and 37.52 in T20s. at present, she plays only the 50-over format.
Yuvraj Singh was given the Arjuna Award in 2012, a year after he produced sensational performances in the 2011 World Cup and helped India win the silverware after 28 years. The all-rounder was the Man of the Series in the World Cup for scoring 362 runs in 8 innings at a strike rate of 86.19. With the ball, he dismissed 15 batsmen. Yuvraj played more than 400 international games and averaged more than 30 in all three formats. As a bowler, he picked up 148 wickets.
Former India captain Virat Kohli won the Arjuna Award in 2013. After making his ODI debut in 2008, T20I debut in 2010 and Test debut in 2011, Kohli took little time to establish himself as a dependable batsman. But in 2012, he gave a glimpse of the star he would become. Against Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Bank Series, Kohli scored an unbeaten 133 off just 86 deliveries which helped India chase down the target of 320 within 37 overs.
After Rangaswamy, Diana Edulji, Shubhangi Kulkarni, Sandhya Agarwal, Mithali Raj, Anju Jain and Anjum Chopra, Harmanpreet Kaur became the eighth women cricketer to win the Arjuna Award. The all-rounder was awarded in 2017, the same year when she put up a sensational performance in the World Cup semi-final against Australia and ended the tournament with an average of nearly 60.
Most recently in 2021, it was Shikhar Dhawan who won the Arjuna Award for his consistent performances for India and in IPL over the last few years. Dhawan is not a regular in the Indian team any more due to the emergence of KL Rahul, but he still remains among the highest run scorers in the IPL.
Who won the Arjuna Award for Cricket in 2021?
Shikhar Dhawan won the Arjuna Award for Cricket in 2021.
Who was the first Arjuna award winner in Cricket?
The first Arjuna award winner in cricket was Salim Durani
What is the highest award in cricket in India?
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is the highest award in cricket in India.
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