Melbourne: Australia’s leg-spin legend Shane Warne, in his best India Test XI, has named Sourav Ganguly as captain, Sachin Tendulkar as the No.4 batsman and V.V.S. Laxman as the 12th man. Warne, who is the second highest Test wicket-taker in the world with 708 scalps from 145 matches, continued his series of naming the best XI from countries he has played against.
And it was unsurprising that Warne named Test cricket’s overall greatest run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar at No.4 in his side. Tendulkar — who retired at 40 having played a staggering 200 Tests, scored 15,921 runs in his remarkable career, with 51 hundreds — was an automatic selection considering the momentous on-field rivalry he has had with the Australian spin wizard.
However, Warne said selecting his India XI was his toughest team to date, with the biggest decision being who to choose between Laxman (8,781 runs in 134 Tests) and former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin (6,126 runs from 99 Test) at the No.6 position. Between 1996 and 2012, Laxman hit six out of his 17 Test hundreds, and four out of his six One-Day Internationals (ODIs) hundreds against Australia.
“This was the hardest team to select as I played against a few legends at the end of their respective careers like (Dilip) Vengsarkar, Sanjay Manjreker, Ravi Shastri and Manoj Prabhakar as well as current players like Zaheer Khan too,” Warne wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
“The Indian side I’ve selected is a very strong one and would be tough to play against. The hardest position to select for me was the number 6 spot between my great friend VVS or Azharuddin.”
Ultimately, while Warne named Azharuddin in his team and opted to have Laxman carry the drinks, he said the final decision would depend on the conditions. “Hence I named 12 and would choose the 12th man on the day!”
Warne’s greatest India XI features Virender Sehwag (8,273 runs) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (3,202 runs) at the top of the order, followed by Rahul Dravid (13,288 runs) at first drop. Tendulkar would be followed by Sourav Ganguly (7,212 runs) – also named captain of Warne’s team – while Azharuddin at No.6 would be followed by iconic all-rounder Kapil Dev (434 wickets and 5,248 runs).
Current India limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni sneaks into the side and would wear the gloves. While Warne’s criteria for his greatest XIs demands he must have played against all selected, Dhoni qualifies having faced Warne in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Anil Kumble (619 wickets), Harbhajan Singh (417 wickets) and Javagal Srinath (236 wickets) round out Warne’s bowling attack. Next, Warne has promised to name his greatest combined Ashes XI and Sri Lankan Test XI.
The team: Virender Sehwag, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mohammad Azharuddin, Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Javagal Srinath (VVS Laxman 12th)