1. Kapil Dev - 175 vs Zimbabwe, 1983
This will always remain a part of the folklore. There were bigger and quicker knocks since Kapil's blitz at Turnbridge Wells. But this knock played at a picturesque Kent venue that was founded in 1782 cannot be rivaled for the sheer romance surrounding it. India were tottering at 17 for 5 and then slipped to 78 for 7 and a defeat could have seriously affected their chances of progressing in the tournament. But Kapil in the company of Madan Lal and Kirmani took on the Zimbabwe bowling and lifted India to 266 and they won the match by 31 runs. His hundred came off 138 balls with 16 fours and six 6s. It was also Kapil's only hundred in 225 ODIs.
2. MS Dhoni - 91 vs Sri Lanka, 2011
In 2011, India had become the premier cricketing powerhouse - a massive progress from the 80s when the cricket was ruled by England and Australia. But they would have liked an on-field validation. And the 2011 World Cup at home was their best chance. The only hurdle in front of them seemed to be the curse of home team not winning the World Cup. But under Dhoni, India conquered myths and opponents. The big day came at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai and Dhoni ensured that India would not waste the chance with a masterly 91 not out off 79 balls. He topped the moment with a huge six off Nuwan Kulasekara that sailed into the long-on stand. The World Cup came to India after 28 years.
3. Sachin Tendulkar - 98 vs Pakistan, 2003
Saeed Anwar made a hundred to guide Pakistan to a competitive 273/7. Pakistan had a very good bowling line-up in Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. Akram had created an early chance when a lofted drive off him went straight to Abdur Razzaq at mid-off but the fielder dropped the offering. Akram made his displeasure open when he screamed at Razzaq: "Pata hein kiska catch choda hein (Do you know whose catch did you drop?). India were 57/2 at that stage and Tendulkar on 32. The Master made Pakistan pay dearly for that lapse with a 98 off 75 balls that helped India saunter past the target in 45.4 overs. For the magnitude of occasion an Indo-Pak cricket match is seldom rivaled in cricket and Tendulkar owned the stage.
4. Rahul Dravid - 145 vs Sri Lanka, 1999
This was a time when Dravid deemed unfit for ODI cricket because of his inability to rotate strike or pull out those power hits. But Dravid put on the cape and flying shoes at Taunton to make pulp out of Lankan attack with a belligerent 145 off 129 balls with 17 fours and a six. Ganguly made an equally fiery 183 off 158 balls with 17 fours and 7 sixes at the other end as India made a massive 373/6. India won the match quite convincingly - by 157 runs as Robin Singh chipped in with a five-wicket haul. But the knock, more importantly, saved Dravid's limited-over career and he ended up with upwards of 10000 runs. But the genesis was at Taunton.
5. Sunil Gavaskar - 103 vs New Zealand, 1987
Gavaskar's outings in the World Cup had always been on the shadow of that 36 off 174 balls in the inaugural 1975 World Cup. But in the 1987 World Cup held in India, Gavaskar showed a different side of him. At Nagpur, Chetan Sharma set the platform for India with a hat-trick and restricted New Zealand to 221/9. Gavaskar and K Srikkanth (75 off 58 balls) added 136 runs for the opening wicket. Gavaskar kept on batting in one tempo to reach 103 off 88 balls with 10 fours and three sixes. Gavaskar's lone ODI hundred went a long way in casting the shadow of that 36.