The steamroller rolls on . India at home have been steamrollering all opposition regardless of their strengths and the latest casualty have been South Africa who were blown away by 3-0. Losing only 1 of their last 33 tests at home, India have been winning every test series played in their home soil in recent years. Hence a couple of websites have been putting out their fantasy teams which can give India some contest at home. While trying to have a look at international players who have done well in Indian subcontinent, we tried to put together this fun exercise & prepared a fantasy World XI as under which can challenge India in India.:
In recent times hardly any opener has done outstandingly well in India. Looked at 3 candidates , Tom Latham, Dean Elgar and Dimuth Karunaratne. David Warner has been poor in India in tests, so misses out. Alistar Cook would have marched into the side had he not retired. Of the 3 shortlisted Karunaratne though being a subcontinent player, has not done well in India in tests ,hence misses out and we zero in on Latham and Elgar both averaged 30 plus in India and played some fighting knocks. So its Tom Latham of New Zealand and Dean Elgar of South Africa as openers.
Not much of difficulty in choosing the middle order with Kane Williamson‘s technique, experience and calmness with decent record in India giving him the number 3 spot. Steve Smith averaging 60 in India at number 4 ( any debates on him?) and Joe Root averaging 53 in India at number 5. All the 3 can give some overs of spin to break partnerships.
Allrounder and keeper:
Ben Stokes has done well enough in India averaging 38 with the bat and taken crucial wickets to go past Shakib Al Hasan and claim the allrounder’s spot. He will be the 3rd seamer of the team. For keeping post, the incumbents are Decock, Bairstow, Buttler and Musfiqur Rahim. Rahim has played just 1 test in India and did very well with bat and gloves. Buttler has been moderate in India, Decock has been dissappointing on the whole while Bairstow has a pretty good record in India averaging 40 with bat with nearly 400 runs in 6 tests and effecting 16 dismissals. Hence Johny Bairstow is the keeper of this team.
One of the main reasons for India’s domination at home is due to the fact that no overseas fast bowler has performed well in India in recent times. Starc, Boult, Rabada , Broad and Anderson do not have the figures to force their way in. Archer has not yet played tests in India, so misses out. So we are left with Pat Cummins and Jos Hazlewood both of whom did decently well in Australia series in India in 2017 and averaged in early 30s . Hence Cummins and Hazlewood both gets picked in this team.
We will have 2 spinners in the XI, keeping in mind the spinning nature of pitches as test match progresses . No contest here with Nathan Lyon, far and away the most successful overseas spinner in India. So with the off spinner in place, the last spot we take a leggie and the lone Pakistani ,Yasir Shah for his great leg spin skills on the subcontinent completes the XI. Yasir is the only player in this team not to have played in India but his successes in other nations in the subcontinent and in UAE with pitches similar to India helps his selection.
Steve Smith who as captain has won the lone test in India in last several years, and was part in a closely fought India v Australia series in India which ended 2-1 in favour of hosts, is the captain.
So we have 4 Aussies, 3 Engishmen, 2 Kiwis and 1 each from Pakistan and South Africa in this XI
Hence the final World XI to tackle India in India as under:
Latham, Elgar , Williamson, Smith (c) , Root, Stokes, Bairstow(wk), Cummins, Lyon, Hazlewood and Yasir.
Debates Welcomed !!!