India played its 500th Test match, against New Zealand in Kanpur in the first test of the 3-match series, but what has slipped under the radar is the fact that India played its 900th One Day International (the most by any nation), when they took on New Zealand in the first ODI of the series at the picturesque HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. So, given that Chinmay has already put out his All-time Test XI, I have put out an All-time ODI XI to celebrate this historic moment.
Criteria for selection? A team that will be successful playing under the current regulations – Playing under lights, 2 new balls, field restrictions and a team that can battle against All-time XI’s of every other nation.
After much deliberation, here is what I consider India’s best playing XI in 50-over cricket.
Squad: Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag (12th man)
Yes, I realise that there are a couple of major names missing but let’s get through the easy ones first.
Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Kapil Dev
There isn’t any justification required for selecting these three giants of the game, right? Tendulkar is arguably the greatest ODI batsman to have ever played the game, Kapil Dev is the all-rounder we are still searching for, and MS Dhoni has had immense success as India’s captain and his glove-work is top drawer.
The men with the bat
To find a partner for Tendulkar is easy when we have to narrow it down to two but a little tough after that. Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly fight for that #1 slot but as far as pairings and individual records go, the Prince trumps the Nawab.
Sehwag does have a better strike-rate, which is required at the start of the innings but the left-right combination at the top of the order, in which the left-hander is arguably the best India has seen is too tempting of a selection to resist.
Rahul Dravid is an excellent ODI player. His run-tally and number of half-centuries are testament to that.
It is tough to argue that currently, there is a better limited-overs player than Virat Kohli. His form is reminiscent of Tendulkar’s form prior to the turn of the century. It may not be quite crystal clear yet but Kohli will be given the tag of an all-time great within the coming 5 years.
The pick for No. 5 was locked down between Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Azharuddin. It is hard to keep out somebody who was the leading run-scorer in the game but Yuvraj will be the perfect finishing partner for Dhoni in the latter stages of the innings. Azhar was aggressive but Yuvraj’s strike-rate gets him in the side.
The men with the ball
Why no Javagal Srinath? Because Ajit Agarkar is a much better limited-overs bowler. Agarkar has a tendency to leak runs, but his ability to take wickets is what caught my eye. He is an extremely skiddy bowler and his batting (strike-rate and average) is better compared to Srinath.
Zaheer Khan picks himself, being India’s best left-arm bowler and probably the most skilled one. His death bowling will be an asset when batsmen are trying to ramp everything up in the latter stages. At present, Ravichandran Ashwin stays out and Harbhajan Singh gets the nod. It won’t be surprising to see the former finish over Harbhajan in the wickets tally in the next few years, in which case I will make the change.
If needed, Yuvraj and Tendulkar can bowl a few overs as well!
Who is the captain? Seven players in the XI have captained the ODI side but it is hard to argue with MS Dhoni being the better captain in the 50-over format. The 2011 World Cup win, along with the Champions Trophy in 2013 and the CB series win in 2008 puts him above the rest.
That is my ODI XI which I believe can go out and dominate every other XI in world cricket. Let me know what you think!