GRAEME SMITH (SA)
9265 runs in 117 Tests at an average of 48.25 with 27 centuries and best of 277
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith had a fruitful career which began in 2002 and ended kind of prematurely in 2014 at the age of 32. He holds the record for most Test matches as captain-109, in which he led South Africa.
He was an excellent opening batsman, who could play spin and fast bowling with equal élan despite having an unorthodox grip and technique. He did his best in England where he slammed two back-to-back double-centuries in Birmingham and Lord’s in 2003.
VIRENDER SEHWAG (IND)
8586 runs in 104 Tests at an average of 49.34 with 23 centuries and best of 319
Whatever can be said about Virender Sehwag is less. He is credited with changing the way openers batted in Test matches given his cavalier attitude towards bowlers. He hit a century on his Test debut in 2001 against South Africa and went onto become the first Indian to smash a triple century as well, scoring 309 against Pakistan in 2004.
He repeated the feat scoring 319 this time against South Africa in 2008 and became one of only four batsmen to hit two triple-hundreds in Test cricket. He gave India a massive advantage as his aggressive batting at the top set up matches for India, especially in 4th innings, the best example being India chasing down 387 runs against England in Chennai in 2008.
RICKY PONTING (C-AUS)
11286 runs in 135 Tests at an average of 53.48 with 35 centuries and best of 257
Ricky Ponting had made his Australia debut in 1995 but reached his peak in the 2000s when he was one of the leading batsmen in Test cricket. His record during that period was amazing and it just became too good when he became captain of the team in 2004.
Ricky Ponting is the only batsman to score twin centuries in his 100th Test match and ended up as one of the greats of the game period thanks to his record throughout his career, but especially in the 21st century.