The much-awaited IPL 2020 is set to start in UAE on 19 September. Cricket fans worldwide are eagerly looking forward to this event. Though I don’t enjoy cricket in desert venues that much, I’m also waiting for this event to get rolling.
Following my Australia XI comes the Indian XI.
Another country that has produced some quality ODI players, India has had its fair share of success, winning the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
Opening the batting will be Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma. With a staggering 18,426 ODI runs, the Master Blaster was the backbone of India’s batting line-up before the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid stabilised the Indian team.
His Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma has had a phenomenal rise as an ODI player since opening in 2013. Sharma averages over 58 as an opener in ODI cricket and it can be argued that he is the best ODI opener of all time as well as India’s best ODI opener.
At number three is no one but the King from Delhi – Virat Kohli. A world-class batsman with world-class numbers in all three formats, Kohli’s hunger for runs remains second to none.
Although he has fallen short in crunch games a few times, to average 62.9 at number three and score nearly 10,000 ODI runs at first drop is no joke.
To play the anchor role in this XI is Rahul Dravid. One of the most selfless cricketers, Dravid did everything that was required of him. Whether it was bat in every position, captain or even keep so that India could play an extra bat, Dravid just quietly went about his business.
Despite having a career ODI strike rate of 71.25, he did once score a 22-ball 50 so Dravid can up the ante when the situation requires that.
At number five is the man from Punjab in Yuvraj Singh. An outstanding middle-order batsman, Yuvraj can take the game away from the opposition. His rocket of a left-arm would create many run-outs and always gave India crucial breakthroughs with his left-arm tweakers.
Yuvraj’s incredible 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup would earn him a man of the series award alongside helping India win the tournament. After the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj would end up defeating cancer a year later and despite not being the same player post-cancer, he is still regarded as an Indian legend in white-ball cricket.
My wicketkeeper and captain is none other than MS Dhoni. Sure he may be past his prime now, but he was a quality player. In his prime, Dhoni struck fear into the opposition with his brilliant late-order hitting, especially in run-chases. He is a freak of a keeper with the gloves and won three ICC trophies as India’s captain.
My finisher alongside Dhoni is Suresh Raina. The 11th highest ODI run-scorer among Indians, Raina was another key player towards India’s success in this century.
He could find gaps all over the park and was dangerous with the bat in the middle overs. A fantastic runner between the wickets, Raina was run-out only 11 times in his ODI career. He bowled some handy off-spin as well when required.
My frontline spinner, who is also India’s most successful off-spinner, is Harbhajan Singh. An excellent spinner who survived the majority of his ODI career on flat decks, Harbhajan was deadly accurate. I can still vividly remember his reaction after Shahid Afridi was dismissed in the 2011 World Cup semi-final: pure, raw emotion.
A passionate man who gave it his all for India, Harbhajan was another key player for India’s success in the 2011 World Cup. He was a handy slogger with the bat and played many late cameos for India.
My new-ball bowlers are Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Shami. Zaheer Khan was a phenomenal bowler for India. With the new ball, the left-armer from Maharashtra made the ball talk by swinging it both ways. He redeemed himself after a disastrous start in the 2003 World Cup Final with a fantastic opening spell vs Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup Final.
Mohammad Shami has been nothing short of exemplary for India when given the new ball. A genuine wicket-taker, Shami has taken 144 wickets in 77 ODI’s at 25.42.
At number 11 is India’s best ODI bowler to date in Jasprit Bumrah. Give him the ball at any stage of the game, and he’ll deliver. Bumrah has almost every single variation in the cricket textbook covered to succeed as a limited-overs bowler.
His deadliest delivery to date is his yorker – close to unplayable as he’ll nail them 99/100 times.
This is how the Indian XI shapes up in the end:
1. Sachin Tendulkar
2. Rohit Sharma
3. Virat Kohli
4. Rahul Dravid
5. Yuvraj Singh
6. MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper)
7. Suresh Raina
8. Harbhajan Singh
9. Zaheer Khan
10. Mohammad Shami
11. Jasprit Bumrah