A World Test XI that can beat India at home
- A look at a World Test XI that could trump India in their own backyard.
- The said team comprises five batsmen, a wicketkeeper, an all-rounder, two spinners and two fast bowlers.
India have a formidable Test record at home. The last time the team lost a Test series at home was against England in 2012/13. Since then India have gone on to win 12 successive home series, doing so against Australia (2), West Indies (2), South Africa (2), New Zealand (1), England (1), Bangladesh (2), Sri Lanka (1) and Afghanistan (1).
On that let us have a look at a World Test XI that could give India a run for their money at home.
World Test XI that could beat India at home:
1. Dimuth Karunaratne
Over the years the opening spot has been a struggle for most Test teams. But Sri Lanka have found a solid opener in Dimuth Karunaratne. Post the Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene era, Karunaratne has been the backbone of Sri Lanka's batting lineup in Test matches. The lefthander is adept in playing spin bowling, something that could come in handy were he to feature for the World XI in a Test match in India.
At home, Karunaratne has played 27 matches, scoring 2175 runs at an average of 42.65 with six hundreds and 11 fifties. In UAE, he has scored 504 runs in five Test matches at an average of 56 with one hundred and two fifties.
He didn't have the best of times in three Test matches in India where he scored 91 runs, with one fifty at an average of 15.17. Overseas openers generally have a tough time in India, but I feel Karunaratne has got the temperament and technique to succeed in these conditions.
In 2017 he scored a magnificent 196 against a formidable Pakistan in UAE. Overall Karunaratne has done pretty well in Asian conditions and thus takes one of the opening slots in our World XI team.
2. Tom Latham
The lefthander from New Zealand, Tom Latham, takes the other opening spot in the World XI. He is a quality player against spin and one of the few batsmen outside Asia who uses the sweep and the reverse sweep shots to good effect. Latham has done a fabulous job for New Zealand over the years, playing out the new ball and setting up the game for the other batsmen in the team.
In 2018, Latham scored 658 runs, with two hundreds and two fifties, in seven matches at an average of 59.82. In 2019, he scored 601 runs, with three hundreds and a fifty, in eight matches at an average of 50.08. This is a testament to his consistency over the years.
In Sri Lanka, Latham has scored 229 runs, that includes a hundred, in two matches at an average of 76.3. In UAE, he has scored 381 runs in six Test matches, with two hundreds and a fifty, at an average of 34.64. In India, Latham has tallied 194 runs, with three fifties, in three matches at an average of 32.33.
In 2019, Latham scored a match-winning 154 against Sri Lanka in Colombo. He has undoubtedly got the technique and has shown that he can succeed in sub-continent conditions.
Arguably one of the greatest batsman New Zealand has ever produced, Kane Williamson takes the number 3 spot in the World XI. He has carried New Zealand's batting over the years and has been one of their most consistent batsman in world cricket. Any top batsman playing spin knows how to use the crease well and Williamson is a great exponent of the same.
In Bangladesh, Williamson has played two matches, scoring 250 runs with one hundred and two fifties at an average of 83.33. In UAE, he has notched up 647 runs with two hundreds and two fifties at an average of 64.7 in six matches. Williamson has played seven Test matches in India and four in Sri Lanka, scoring 648 runs that includes two hundreds and three fifties.
The right-hander has scored a Test hundred in every Asian country he has played in. He has scored runs in conditions conducive to spinners, which makes him an indisputable choice at number three in our World XI team.
4. Steve Smith
It is impossible to leave out the number one Test batsman out of a World XI side. Steve Smith's transformation from a young leg spinner to the best Test batsman in the world is a remarkable story. There is no doubt that Australia rely on him heavily but what is astounding is his ability to score runs consistently year after year.
He has got his unique way of scoring runs, and his stats in Asian conditions speak for themselves. In UAE, Smith has scored 174 runs, with two fifties, at an average of 43.50 in two matches.
In Sri Lanka, he has played three matches where he has scored 247 runs at an average of 41.17, tallying a hundred and a fifty. Smith has had a terrific time in India amassing 660 Test runs in six matches at an average of 60, a tally that comprises three hundreds and one fifty.
In the Ranchi Test in 2017, Smith scored a fabulous unbeaten 178 against an Indian bowling attack that comprised of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin who are two of the best spinners in the world. It is a testament of Smith's temperament and ability to play spin that is a pre-requisite when playing Test cricket in India.
5. Joe Root (Captain)
Joe Root would bat a bit out of position in our World XI Test team to play in India. The England Test captain is a player that plays spin well. He has got all the shots in the book and is a good player of spin bowling as he uses the crease well. Root isn't afraid to bring out the sweep and the reverse sweep, two shots he executes to perfection more often than not.
In six Test matches in India, Root has scored 584 runs with one hundred and five fifties. The right-hander has played three Test matches in UAE where he has tallied 287 runs with three fifties. Root has scored 229 Test runs, with one hundred, in three Test matches in Sri Lanka, doing so at an average of 38.17.
In 2016, Root scored a quality innings of 124 against India in Rajkot that demonstrated his proficiency to play spin. He would captain our World Test XI even though he would not bat in his regular position in the team.
6. BJ Watling
BJ Watling, the gritty wicket-keeper batsman from New Zealand, would don the gloves for the World XI Test team to play in India. He is a fighting character and someone you would want to have when things get difficult. Being small in stature helps him pick up length quickly and play spin well.
In two matches he has played in Sri Lanka, Watling has scored 183 runs with one hundred and one fifty at an average of 91.5. In Bangladesh, he has also played two matches where he has tallied 173 runs with one hundred and one fifty at an average of 86.5. Watling, though, hasn't had a great time in India, managing 119 runs in four matches at an average of 19.83 and a high score of 25.
Since then, Watling has improved a lot as a Test player and his recent tour of Sri Lanka in 2019 is a reflection of it. He scored an outstanding unbeaten 105 that helped set up a win for the visitors.
7. Jason Holder
A player that has made considerable strides in Test cricket is Jason Holder. From starting as a bowler who could contribute a bit with the bat to the number one ranked all-rounder, Holder has come a long way. He is also currently ranked number three among the bowlers and would take the all-rounder's spot in our World Test XI.
Being a fast bowler in Asia is a difficult job, but Holder has excelled in these conditions. In UAE, Holder has picked up nine wickets at an average of 23.67 with one five-wicket haul while in Sri Lanka he has taken three wickets at an average of 22.33. Holder has an impressive record in India, taking ten wickets at an average of 11.5 with one five-wicket haul.
Not only does Holder do an excellent job with the ball, but he is also a handy batsman. He has scored 1898 Test runs at an average of 32.72 with three hundreds and eight fifties including a remarkable double century against England.
8. Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins made his Test debut at the age of 18 years against South Africa, making him the youngest player after Ian Craig to represent Australia in Test matches. He took seven wickets in that Test that included a six-for in the second innings, an effort that earned him the Man of the Match award.
Injuries have curtailed his career, but he has managed to get back on track. Now Cummins is the number 1 ranked Test bowler in the world. He has taken six and eight wickets in Bangladesh and India respectively at a decent average of around 30.
Cummins has been exceptional for Australia in the past 18 months. He took 44 wickets in 2018 at an average of 19.98 with two five-wicket hauls. In 2019, the rightarmer took 59 wickets at an average of 20.14 with one ten-wicket haul and two five-wicket hauls. Cummins would walk into our World XI Test side as one of the fast bowlers.
9. Yasir Shah
Yasir Shah hasn't had the greatest time off late for Pakistan. He has struggled overseas, but his record in Asia speaks for itself. He became the joint second-fastest bowler to take 100 wickets, arriving at the landmark in only 17 Test matches. Shah also holds the record for being the fastest to 200 Test wickets, doing so in 33 Tests.
In Sri Lanka, Shah has taken 24 wickets with three five-wicket hauls at an average of 19.33. In UAE, where he has played most of his Test cricket, he has taken 116 wickets with two ten-wicket hauls and eight five-wicket hauls, averaging 24.56. Being a leg-spinner who's got different variations makes him a threat on a wicket where the ball starts to grip.
Out of 213 Test wickets he has taken in his career, 156 of them have come in Asia. That goes to show how good a bowler he has been in these conditions. Not surprisingly, Shah would take up one of the spinners' spot in our World Test XI.
10. Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada is a bowler that seems to get better the more he plays. He has been a revelation for South Africa over the years. He became the youngest bowler to take 150 wickets in Test cricket. Rabada is the third-fastest South African to reach the said milestone, doing so in 31 Test matches.
In Sri Lanka, he has taken eight wickets at an average of 23.88, which is exceptional for a fast bowler. Out of the six Test matches he has played in India, three of them were in his debut series in 2015. He ended up taking only three wickets in the series. In his second Test tour of India four years later, Rabada was a much-improved bowler, and the results showed in the same as he picked up seven wickets in three Test matches.
In 2018, Rabada took the most wickets in Test matches (52), doing so at an average of 20.07 with one ten-wicket haul and two five-wicket hauls. Rabada would partner Pat Cummins and Jason Holder to complete the seam attack in our World Test XI.
11. Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon would take up the final spot in our World Test XI and would partner Yasir Shah in the spin attack.
In 2011, Nathan Lyon made his Test debut against Sri Lanka and took a wicket off his first ball, ending with figures of 5/34 in the first innings. He holds the record for most Test wickets by an Australian off-spinner, passing Hugh Trumble's mark of 141 wickets in 2015.
In Bangladesh, Lyon has taken 22 wickets, averaging 14.32, with one ten-wicket haul and three five-wicket hauls. He has taken 58 wickets in India (34) and Sri Lanka (24), a tally that comprises four five-wicket hauls (three in India and one in Sri Lanka), at an average of just over 30.
In 2017, Lyon recorded match figures of 13/154 against Bangladesh that represented the best bowling figures by an Australian bowler in a Test match in Asia. In the same year, Lyon took the most wickets in Tests (63), averaging 23.55, with one ten-wicket haul and five five-wicket hauls.Published 20 May 2020, 01:33 IST