Having denied Australia a victory at the Gabba, India travelled to Adelaide with confidence for the second Test match of the Border-Gavaskar series.
Choosing an XI for India in each format was more challenging than Australia, especially with the talent at their disposal in white-ball cricket.
A few of my selections could raise a few eyebrows.
1. Mayank Agarwal
First-class (FC) stats – 4951 runs, 48.06 average, 11 hundreds
Test stats – 974 runs, 57.29 average, three hundreds
Alongside Marnus Labuschagne, Agarwal took 2019 by storm. In just 11 Test matches to date, Agarwal has shown the technique and composure required to be a successful Test opener. He will have a long career for India in the whites as long as he sticks to the basics.
2. Shubman Gill
FC stats – 2133 runs, 73.55 average, seven hundreds
He dominates domestic cricket bowlers for fun. At just the age of 20, Gill has shown that he’s adaptable to every format just by playing routine cricketing shots. He was very unlucky not to make his Test debut in New Zealand, but a debut cap in the traditional format will come sooner than later for the Punjab batsman.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
FC stats – 15,771 runs, 53.64 average, 50 hundreds
Test stats – 5840 runs, 48.66 average, 18 hundreds
He doesn’t have the most remarkable record outside of the subcontinent, averaging 33.59 and that includes his golden series in Australia. But what he does is blunt the new ball by defending staunchly and accelerating only when it’s required. India needs a number three like him, and Virat Kohli seems to back him all the time.
4. Virat Kohli (captain)
FC stats – 9489 runs, 53.91 average, 34 hundreds
Test stats – 7240 runs, 53.62 average, 27 hundreds
He is India’s best Test batsman and the second best Test batsman in the world. Need I say any more?
5. Ajinkya Rahane
FC stats – 10,881 runs, 49.23 average, 33 hundreds
Test stats – 4203 runs, 42.88 average, 11 hundreds
It’s very rare to see an Indian batsman who plays better on wickets outside the subcontinent than on the subcontinent. A solid middle-order player for the past seven years, Rahane has played crucial knocks for India leading to wins outside the subcontinent.
6. Hanuma Vihari
FC stats – 6860 runs, 58.13 average, 20 hundreds
Test stats – 552 runs, 36.8 average, one hundred
Vihari has the 15th highest first-class average of all time and the second highest among current players. Batting similarly to VVS Laxman, Vihari will be a very successful Test player for India if he can be given a run in the long term. He bowls some handy part-time spin to provide the front-line bowlers a break.
7. Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper)
FC stats – 2558 runs, 48.26 average, six hundreds
Test stats – 814 runs, 38,76 average, two hundreds
It feels so tough to leave out Wriddhiman Saha, but Rishabh Pant hasn’t done anything wrong as Indian Test keeper. Bar his debut series in England where he replaced Dinesh Karthik halfway through the series, the youngster has been very solid with the gloves for India. Add in two quality hundreds at the Oval and the SCG, and you have a young Indian keeper who can emulate Adam Gilchrist’s feats in Test cricket.
8. Ravindra Jadeja
FC stats – 5799 runs, 47.14 average, ten hundreds, 423 wickets, 24.19 average, 2.46 economy
Test stats – 1869 runs, 35.26 average, one hundred, 213 wickets, 24.62 average, 2.43 economy
Jadeja outshines Ravichandran Ashwin with the ball outside the subcontinent, and that’s why I have him as my sole spinner in this team. Alongside his accurate off spin, Jadeja is the best fielder in the world and has the technique of a top-six batsman. Did I mention he’s got a sword celebration every time he passes 50 or 100?
9. Ishant Sharma
FC stats – 467 wickets, 28.22 average, 3.06 economy
Test stats – 297 wickets, 32.39 average, 3.18 economy
What a revelation he’s been under Virat Kohli. In the past 36 months, Sharma averages 19.14 with the ball and has so much control. He’s been the workhorse of the Indian Test bowlers, tirelessly going through the paces, drying up the runs and taking wickets. He is no mug with the bat despite the low average, hanging around for long periods to keep the opposition at bay.
10. Mohammed Shami
FC stats – 278 wickets, 26.93 average, 3.26 economy
Test stats – 180 wickets, 27.36 economy, 3.32 economy
He is another quick who has benefited from Virat Kohli’s captaincy. Shami bowls faster than what batsmen would presume, and he uses that to his advantage. Since 2015, he has never averaged less than 27 with the ball in every calendar year. He can tonk a few sixes here and there as well.
11. Mohammed Siraj
FC stats – 147 wickets, 23 average, 3.11 economy
He is heavily underappreciated by Indian fans who assume he’s a run machine for a few poor overs in the IPL. Siraj bowls on dead wickets in Hyderabad and can crank it up to 150 kilometres effortlessly. He is unfortunate that there’s so much competition in India’s pace attack at the moment or else he’d have made his Test debut ages ago.
1. Rohit Sharma (captain)
List A stats – 11,357 runs, 46.54 average, 32 hundreds
ODI stats – 9115 runs, 49.27 average, 29 hundreds
He is the best opener in one-day cricket by a mile. The stats back it up with ease. He has a brilliant cricket mind, having won a T20 tri-series and the Asia Cup in Virat Kohli’s absence alongside four IPL titles in six and a half seasons as captain.
2. Shikhar Dhawan
List A stats – 10,609 runs, 45.14 average, 29 hundreds
ODI stats – 5688 runs, 45.14 average, 17 hundreds
Dhawan is a match-winner for the Indians at the top of the order. In ICC tournaments (the 50 overs World Cup and the Champions Trophy), he cranks it up, averaging 58.95, so you know he’s ready for the big matches. He is probably the most liked Indian cricketer in Australia since he lives in Melbourne when he’s not touring with the Indian side.
3. Manish Pandey
List A stats – 5376 runs, 45.55 average, ten hundreds
ODI stats – 492 runs, 35.14 average, one hundred
Big things were expected of Pandey after his maiden ODI ton against Australia at the SCG in 2016, yet things haven’t gone the way the Karnataka batsman would’ve liked. With no Kohli, I’m backing Pandey in the long run to score consistently for India at number three.
4. Shreyas Iyer
List A stats – 3651 runs, 44.52 average, six hundreds
ODI stats – 748 runs, 49.86 average, one hundred
India couldn’t settle on their number four in the ODI side for a long time. It took after the 2019 World Cup for the Indian selectors to give Shreyas Iyer a long run. He hasn’t looked back and looks like a seasoned veteran already.
5. KL Rahul (wicketkeeper)
List A stats – 3249 runs, 44.5 average, eight hundreds
ODI stats – 1239 runs, 47.65 average, four hundreds
He is another star batsman from Karnataka. After a concussion to Rishabh Pant in January 2020, Rahul has not given Pant a sniff of coming back into the Indian ODI line-up. Now playing as a keeper-batsman much like his hero Rahul Dravid did in the early 2000s, he’s already kept the number five spot in the long run. His keeping has improved as he’s gone on and he could go a step further than MS Dhoni in one-day internationals if he’s got the hunger for it.
6. Kedar Jadhav
List A stats – 5093 runs, 45.07 average, nine hundreds
ODI stats – 1389 runs, 42.09 average, two hundreds
He is a criminally underrated batsman. The right-hander strikes over 100 in ODIs and played crucial knocks that have assisted India towards victories. Alongside his explosive batting, Jadhav bowls some loopy off spin that seem to somehow lead to wickets falling for the opposition.
7. Hardik Pandya
List A stats – 1291 runs, 28.68 average, six fifties, 70 wickets, 39.97 average, 5.38 economy
ODI stats – 957 runs, 29.9 average, four fifties, 54 wickets, 40.64 average, 5.56 economy
The hard-hitting all-rounder from Gujarat hasn’t set the world on fire, but he’s shown what he is capable of at times. He provides balance into the Indian ODI team, allowing the Indians to play two wrist spinners in the XI. He is a very handy finisher and can get wickets with his slower balls and surprise bouncers.
8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
List A stats – 193 wickets, 30.79 average, 4.82 economy
ODI stats – 132 wickets, 34.6 average, 5.02 economy
Accuracy was never the problem for Kumar, rather the lack of pace was what hampered his chances in the early stages of his career. The right-arm seamer can swing it both ways in the high 130s to low 140s. His death bowling has improved, especially his yorkers and slower balls. He is solid with the bat if he’s needed to score a few runs.
9. Kuldeep Yadav
List A stats – 118 wickets, 26.26 average, 5.02 economy
ODI stats – 104 wickets, 26.16 average, 5.11 economy
He’s been brilliant for India since his ODI debut in 2017. He can go for runs at times, but he’ll take wickets in the middle overs nine out of ten times.
10. Yuzvendra Chahal
List A stats – 150 wickets, 26.23 average, 4.78 economy
ODI stats – 91 wickets, 25.83 average, 5.07 economy
He is a crucial cog in India’s bowling attack. Leg spin is an arduous task to craft, yet Chahal has been so accurate every time he’s gone out to bowl for India. Alongside Yadav, the duo have bowled brilliantly in tandem countless times and reduced the opposition’s predicted scores by almost 20 runs.
11. Jasprit Bumrah
List A stats – 156 wickets, 22.06 average, 4.39 economy
ODI stats – 104 wickets, 24.43 average, 4.55 economy
He is the best white-ball bowler by a mile. He can bowl in all aspects of an innings and take wickets. India are blessed to have him for another ten to 12 years.
1. Devdutt Padikkal
T20 stats – 580 runs, 64.44 average, one hundred
The Karnataka batsman has taken India’s domestic circuit by surprise. After a stint in the Karnataka Premier League last year, Padikkal made his T20 debut for Karnataka. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (India’s domestic T20 tournament), the left-hander topped the run-scoring charts. Alongside topping the run-scoring charts last year, Padikkal was striking it at 175.75. Highly rated by former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and Virat Kohli, don’t be surprised to see this 19-year-old play plenty of white-ball cricket for India in the future.
2. Ruturaj Gaikwad
T20 stats – 843 runs, 33.72 average, six fifties
Gaikwad’s not as aggressive as Padikkal, but he’s still a good player nonetheless. He just plays good, simple cricket shots and it gets the runs. Gaikwad has been scoring runs consistently for Maharashtra and India A, so an India debut isn’t far away for the 22-year-old.
3. Washington Sundar
T20 stats – 703 runs, 24.24 average, two fifties, 57 wickets, 26.14 average, 6.74 economy
T20I stats – 26 runs, 6.5 average, zero fifties, 19 wickets, 27.73 average, 6.93 economy
Sundar is primarily a bowling all-rounder. However, I have him at three. Why? Well in the last edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, Sundar batted at three for Tamil Nadu, and it worked to great effect. He scored 271 runs at 54.2 with one fifty as Tamil Nadu ended up as runners-up in the tournament. His off spin is very useful in the power play, as he’s shown in the IPL and for India. Mind you, he’s only 20, so he can easily play another 15 or 17 years for India in both white-ball formats.
4. Nitish Rana
T20 stats – 2110 runs, 27.4 average, 14 fifties
An aggressive batsman, Rana has been a shining light for Delhi and the IPL franchises he’s played for. A good player of pace and spin, Rana loves to play the pull shot and the cover drive. Bowls neat off spin if required, dismissing Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers in the IPL a few years ago.
5. Dinesh Karthik (captain and wicketkeeper)
T20 stats – 5708 runs, 27.7 average, 29 fifties
T20I stats – 399 runs, 33.25 average, zero fifties
If I had to bank my life on one player to finish off a T20 game, I’d have complete faith in Dinesh Karthik all the time. He has done it so many times in domestic cricket and the few sporadic chances he’s been given to play T20 cricket for India. A quality gloveman and an inspirational skipper for Tamil Nadu, he’s the captain and keeper of this T20 team. If India want to win the T20 World Cup, Karthik has to be in the playing XI or else they can say goodbye to their chances of winning it.
6. Vijay Shankar
T20 stats – 1356 runs, 26.07 average, four fifties
T20I stats – 101 runs, 25.25 average, zero fifties
An explosive batsman, Shankar has shown how useful he can be for Tamil Nadu and his IPL sides. Usually a finisher, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder can go down a few gears should a few early wickets fall, and that’s a real quality to have, even in the shortest format of the game. He bowls handy medium pace and an outstanding fielder.
7. Krunal Pandya
T20 stats – 1338 runs, 23.47 average, two fifties, 79 wickets, 28.82 average, 7.33 economy
T20I stats – 121 runs, 24.2 average, zero fifties, 14 wickets, 38.42 average, 28.4 average
He is a rock star. He can play the anchor role if required, but he is primarily a finisher. A few knee injuries have hampered his ambitions to play first-class cricket, but he is more than handy in white-ball cricket. Alongside his brilliant batting in the lower order, the all-rounder from Gujarat has bowled India to victory with his off-spinners and is safe with the hands.
8. Shreyas Gopal
T20 stats – 78 wickets, 16.78 average, 7.15 economy
It’s astounding to see Gopal remain uncapped in international cricket. The leg spinner gives it a big rip both ways and has left some of the best players of spin bamboozled with his subtle variations.
9. Deepak Chahar
T20 stats – 95 wickets, 20.27 average, 7.28 economy
T20I stats – 17 wickets, 14.76 average, 7.0 economy
I have never seen an Indian bowler swing it so much with the new ball in the shorter formats. I first saw Chahar bowl in an IPL game in 2018, and I just felt this man could be pretty special for India. While he might not get you wickets all the time, his accurate swing bowling dries up the runs and creates pressure on batsmen to get a move on.
10. Navdeep Saini
T20 stats – 43 wickets, 26.93 average, 7.08 economy
T20I stats – 13 wickets, 18.07 average, 7.15 economy
Primarily a red-ball bowler, Saini has made big strides in white-ball cricket. Noticed by Gautam Gambhir in a 15-minute net session with the former Indian batsman, Saini has gone through the ranks in Delhi’s domestic side before his breakthrough season in last year’s IPL. His pace has hurried and surprised batsmen as he can bowl 150-plus. On the smaller grounds with flatter pitches in New Zealand a few months ago, Saini remained economical while taking wickets – giving himself the best chance to be on the plane to Australia for the T20 World Cup.
11. Sandeep Warrier
T20 stats – 46 wickets, 26.3 average, 7.2 economy
He is another quality player from Karnataka. A late bloomer, the right-arm pacer has shown in the Indian domestic circuit what he’s capable of. With a lethal bouncer and yorker, Warrier has a knack of taking wickets with the new ball and at the death.