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The Best All-Time Indian XI against Australia

Last updated on: December 22, 2011 20:49 IST

The Best All-Time Indian XI against Australia

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Haresh Pandya
Will Ganguly be in The Best All-Time Indian XI against Australia?

Will Laxman be selected ahead of Vengsarkar?

Check out Haresh Pandya's fascinating feature.

As Team India prepares for the eagerly awaited four Test series against Australia getting underway Down Under on Boxing Day, it may be in the fitness of things to pick the Best Indian XI in Indo-Oz cricket.

On the face of it, this may appear an easy exercise. But it is not. Rather it is a daunting task. India-Australia cricket relations go back to the mid-1940s -- immediately after World War II and before Independence -- when the Australian Services team visited this country for an unofficial Test series.

Since then the two countries have played a number of series -- in India and Australia.

So many Indian players have left a lasting impression with their good -- even excellent -- performances against Australia; even those who may have figured in a solitary series or only a couple of Tests.

Men like Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad, Dattu Phadkar, M L Jaisimha, Rusi Surti, Dilip Doshi and Shivlal Yadav immediately come to mind.

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Sunny Days

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Not all of them can be accommodated in my All-time Best India XI, simply because others featured in comparatively more India-Australia contests and have had more to show at least in terms of statistics.

And figures are a lifeline of cricket. However, one must never forget that such selections are always subjective and never objective.

The best possible All-Time Indian XI to take on any Australian XI in Tests anywhere in Australia or India could be as follows:

Sunil Gavaskar: Vice-Captain

He is still the finest ever opening batsman from Asia. S M Gavaskar's record against Australia, both in India and Down Under, is in keeping with his reputation as a prolific scorer.

He began in a blaze of glory in Australia in 1977, scoring 113, 127 and 118 in the first three Tests against Jeff Thomson at the peak of his prowess.

Prior to that he had done pretty well in Australia in 1972 while representing the Rest of the World led by Garfield Sobers.

The only time he failed against Australia during his otherwise phenomenal career was in the 1981 series Down Under, when Denis Lillee and Len Pascoe seemed to have found him out.

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Image: Sunil Gavaskar


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Amazing Viru!

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Virender Sehwag

There can't be a better batsman to partner Gavaskar than Sehwag when it comes to opening the Indian innings against Australia in Tests.

The two not only make an ideal pair -- Gavaskar solid in defence; Sehwag spectacular in attack -- but also complement each other well.

At his best Sehwag has rendered the best of Australian pace bowlers and spinners impotent, home and away, while playing his trademark big innings.

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Image: Virender Sehwag


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Can there be a better No 3?

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Rahul Dravid

None will contest Dravid's place in this XI and the one-down slot given to him.

Just look at his performance as well as record against Australia.

The ideal batsman to take care of the Indian innings in the event of the team losing an early wicket or two.

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Image: Rahul Dravid


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Phenomenal Vishy

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Gundappa Viswanath

It is a virtual toss-up between Viswanath and the man hailed by most as god in Indian cricket for this important position.

Viswanath's highly impressive performance in the four series he has played against the Aussies -- two each in India and Australia -- and his ability to play exceptionally well under pressure without curbing his natural game gives him a slight edge.

Viswanath -- who scored a scintillating 137 (with 25 fours) in his maiden Test in Kanpur against an Australian attack spearheaded by Graham McKenzie and Allan Connolly at Kanpur in 1969-1970 after being dismissed for 0 in the first innings -- was one of the few batsmen of the world who demonstrated exemplary technique and footwork against the deadly Jeff Thomson (in 1977) and Lillee (in 1981) on the greentops Down Under.

If anything, the master craftsman scored 59, 54, 79, 89 and 73 in a row in the 1977 series and essayed a heroic, match-winning 114 in grim adversity at Melbourne in 1981.

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Image: Gundappa Viswanath


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The Certain Choice

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Sachin Tendulkar

Can anyone dare leave Tendulkar out of any Indian XI taking on any opposition, not just Australia?

It would be an act of blasphemy if one did. Nothing more need to be said or written.

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Image: Sachin Tendulkar


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The Batsman the Aussies Fear Most

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VV S Laxman

Of all the cricketers in history -- and they include luminaries like Gary Sobers and Viv Richards -- only VVS has a divine right to play against Australia in the heavyweight division of cricket.

Australia always brings the best out of this elegant batsman, home and away, whose record against other countries pale in comparison.

Laxman's magnum opus, his superlative 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001, has become part of cricket folklore.

Laxman keeps out batsmen like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Sourav Ganguly in this XI despite their fine record against the Kangaroos.

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Image: V V S Laxman


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The Cool Captain

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Wicket-keeper, Captain

Syed Kirmani, a far better wicket-keeper with an outstanding record against Australia, comes close to giving Dhoni a good run for his money.

Kiri misses a place in this XI by a whisker, simply because Dhoni can walk into any Indian team on the strength of his batting alone.

And he is a shrewd and successful captain, too.

Dhoni's batting would lend depth to the batting in this XI. He will also be its captain.

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Image: M S Dhoni


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An Automatic Choice

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Kapil Dev

India is yet to produce a more successful medium-pacer than Kapil Dev over a longer period of time nor a better allrounder by the same token.

With a splendid record against Australia, both in India and Down Under, Kapil Dev is an automatic choice in this XI, just like V V S Laxman.

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Image: Kapil Dev


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Zak Power

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Zaheer Khan

Only Javagal Srinath gives Zaheer Khan some competition to share the new ball with Kapil Dev in this XI.

Zaheer's record against Australia is comparatively better though the left-armer has not done consistently well bowling to the heavy-scoring batsmen from Down Under.

The right-left combination of Kapil and Zaheer, who both rely more on swing than express pace, will surely test the Aussies.

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Image: Zaheer Khan


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Magical Pras

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Erapalli Prasanna

E A S Prasanna, hailed by Ian Chappell in his prime as the greatest off-spinner in the world, makes this XI at the expense of the more flamboyant but less talented Harbhajan Singh despite Bhajji's dual match-winning spells against Australia in 2001.

Though over the hill when he last toured Australia in 1977, Pras had a dream run against the star-studded, world-beating Australian team in the back-to-back series in the late 1960s -- 25 wickets in four Tests in Australia in 1967-1968 and 26 wickets in five Tests in India in 1969-1970.

Pras bowled astonishingly well against those Aussies who were master of spin bowling -- unlike Harbhajan's success against those already vulnerable against off-spin, especially on the Indian dusty bowls.

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Image: E A S Prasanna


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Brilliant Bishen

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Bishen Singh Bedi

This colourful orthodox left-arm spinner is preferred to two towering leggies, Bhagwat S Chandrasekhar and Anil Kumble, because of his consistently good performances against the Aussies Down Under, in 1967-1968 and 1977-1978 and in India in 1969-1970.

Chandra or Kumble would have made the XI if Zaheer had not found a berth.

Hunting in pairs, Bedi and Prasanna were more dangerous and successful against the Australian batsmen. Any Australian team would find it tough to handle India's double spin attack helmed by Bedi and Prasanna.

Unlike Chandra and Kumble, Bedi was a difficult bowler even on unhelpful wickets.

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Image: Bishen Singh Bedi


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Unlikely Twelfth Man

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Harbhajan Singh

No other Indian but Bhajji deserves to be the 12th man in this XI against Australia.

But for E A S Prasanna, he would have been given the responsibility of India's spin bowling along with Bedi.


Image: Harbhajan Singh


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