The Aussies went through the exercise of picking an all time XI before the World Cup and while discussing in another thread with Mohan Krishnamoorthy, we came up with this idea of an all time India XV.
So, here is my team:
1. Sachin Tendulkar
2. Sourav Ganguly
Others who were considered for this slot were Virender Sehwag, Kris Srikkanth, Navjot Sidhu, Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar.
Kris Srikkanth was one of the first openers in the world who attacked from the get-go. Navjot Sidhu could hit those amazing sixes coming half way down the pitch. But as far as openers go for an all time India XI, you can’t go beyond the peerless Tendulkar and Ganguly combination. Together they have over 25000 ODI runs and over 60 centuries. Moreover, the left-hander-right-hander combination would make this a killer opening pair. Even a Sehwag in his prime would not be able to dislodge this opening combination at its peak.
3. Virender Sehwag
4. Rahul Dravid
5. Mohammed Azharuddin
Although I have not penned Sehwag as an opening batsman, with his “near 100” strike rate and attacking game, he would come out at No. 3 in my team. Rahul Dravid, aka ‘The Wall’ will easily slide into No. 4. His 40 plus average and 70-plus strike rate makes him an ideal bat in the middle order. I would slot Mohammed Azharuddin at No. 5. Although he exited International cricket in disgrace, he had accumulated over 9000 runs and was a great batsman and fielder.
The others who were considered but didn’t make the cut included Dilip Vengsarkar, Ajay Jadeja, Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil, and Yuvraj Singh.
Lower middle order/allrounders
6. Ravi Shastri
7. M. S. Dhoni
8. Kapil Dev
As far as all rounders go, you can’t beat that list. Ravi Shastri swatting the ball for a six after coming in in the 45th over was an awesome sight. Promoting him into the opening slot pretty much killed his slog game in his later years. He was also a useful spinner who could bowl out his 10 overs.
Dhoni’s business card should actually read “Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Wicket keeper, Batsman, Slogger”. Need I say more? He has got a strike rate of 98.49 and an average of 46.61. Dhoni comes in at No. 7 in my team. Kapil Dev, the allrounder, could easily bat up the order, but he would have to settle for No. 8.
Full time bowlers
9. Zaheer Khan
10. Javagal Srinath
11. Anil Kumble
The No. 9 slot was a tough fight between Zaheer Khan and Manoj Prabhakar. Manoj Prabhakar at his best was a very good bowler at the death and wasn’t bad with the bat either. But for sheer energy and the variety he offers with his left arm pace, Zaheer edges out Manoj Prabhakar for the No. 9 slot.
Srinath would easily grab the No. 10 slot ahead of the likes of Agarkar and Prasad. A lot of people forget that Srinath was the leading wicket taker for India in one dayers until Anil Kumble overtook his record. Bowlers like Chetan Sharma, Roger Binny and Madan Lal shined in the odd game, but they just weren’t good and consistent enough to get into my pick.
Kumble, the highest wicket taker for India would get the lone spinners slot, ahead of the only other person challenging him – Harbhajan Singh.
To make up the XV, I would pick 2 other batsmen and 2 bowlers. The 2 batsmen slots would go to Jadeja and Yuvraj. Both very different players, but excellent fielders. Prabhakar and Agarkar would take up the two bowling slots.
So here is my final XV – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Azharudin, Ravi Shastri, M. S. Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajit Agarkar.
The XI, I have picked contains 5 bowlers who can bowl all of their 10 overs in addition to the “batting” allrounders such as Tendulkar, Ganguly and Sehwag. In some matches where just 4 bowlers would suffice, we would have the flexibility of bringing in an additional batsman such as Jadeja or Yuvraj in to the XI (who can themselves bowl a few overs).
So who would be the captain? The team is filled with players who have captained India, but my choice would be Ravi Shastri. He has a shrewd cricketing brain, but was never given enough chance to lead India.