I've been following CricInfo's all-time XI feature since they started the column.
While they haven't started an Indian all-time XI yet, I decided that I'd bring to you what, I feel, would be India's greatest playing XI.
Like I have said before, this piece is welcome to argument and I'm fully responsible for defending my side
So here goes
1)Sunil Gavaskar: I've never seen Gavaskar live, except as a commentator, but the thought of one of your
opening batsmen wearing a skullcap and a summer hat over it, ready to face the West Indian quicks, or Dennis Lillee or Jeff Thomson and making runs off them, would fit into an international side, leave alone a national XI.
2) Virender Sehwag: The perfect balancing partner for Gavaskar. While Gavaskar is the epitome of technique and grafting runs, Sehwag, as Steve Waugh said, believes in the KISS theory, which is Keep It Simple, Stupid. But the KISS theory has worked and Sehwag is the third person, after Bradman and Lara to have two triple hundreds to his name. What I wonder though, is the expression on Gavaskar's face if he does something stupid to get out OR hit a six when he is on 294
3) Rahul Dravid: They don't call him the wall for nothing. He's scored more runs on faster and bouncy wickets than he has in India, which doesn't mean that he scores poorly at home. He just averages over 60 outside the subcontinent, which is a fantastic record by India's best number three ever.
4) Sachin Tendulkar: I don't have to say much about Sachin. He fits into any cricket lover and non-cricket lover's dream team, whether national or international. His record speaks for itself and it would be any cricket lover's dream to see him and Gavaskar bat together.
5) Gundappa Vishwanath: I've never seen him bat, but I know he is great. While his average and statistics don't look all that great compared to the guys above, I've chosen him because of Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar gave us this statistic in his book Idols that whenever Vishy made a good score, India usually won or drew a test match
6) CK Nayudu: I'll admit that I was confused between choosing MAK Pataudi and CK Nayudu, but CK wins because of his ability to bowl as well. Let's not forget that he could dismantle any bowling attack and his position at number 6 is significant because he'd be able to play the old ball a lot better. He is also my captain for the side
7) N Kapil Dev: India's first and last great all-rounder. Could bowl fast, could bat like a dream and could field like a gazelle
8) Syed Kirmani: India's greatest wicketkeeper. Many may argue that he's right up there, along with Rod Marsh and Alan Knott. Kirmani is also a useful lower order batsman, who can hang around and frustrate the opposition
9) P Baloo: Ramachandra Guha may call CK the first great cricketer, but after reading A Corner of a Foreign Field, I'd rate Baloo slightly higher. CK had the charisma and was popular amongst the Hindu fan, but Baloo always got the job done. A bowling average of 15 also helps him find a way into this side. And yes, he could bat as well
10) J Srinath: India's fastest bowler in the modern era. Srinath had two things to his disadvantage. 1) He spent most of his time bowling on the subcontinent 2) He was overused and had that took a toll on his body. But he and Kapil would form the ideal bowling partnership
11) BS Chandrasekhar: The madman bowler. Didn't know what his next ball would be. He was the destroyer of batting attacks the world over. He just needed confidence in himself to bowl that well. While his average isn't the best around, we know that he'd fit into this Indian side
12) Eknath Solkar: 12th man