What’s the story?
Former New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori has picked the Indian batting trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli in his all time XI. In collaboration with Lord’s Cricket Ground, the 38-year-old revealed his dream team. According to the selection criteria, those selecting the XI can choose players they have played with, against or have been influenced by.
Vettori has named Kohli as captain of a star-studded outfit which also includes two-time World Cup winning skipper Ricky Ponting, revolutionary wicket-keeping batsman Adam Gilchrist, metronomic pacer Glenn McGrath as well as spin king Shane Warne.
Iconic all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee is the sole Kiwi in the side. The likes of Kumar Sangakkara, AB de Villiers and Muttiah Muralitharan complete the line-up even as South African great Jacques Kallis comes in as the 12th man.
On why he tasked Kohli with leadership duties despite the presence of more experienced names, Vettori insisted, “I have seen Virat Kohli up front, up close for a long time and been nothing but impressed by the way he plays and the passion that he has for winning I think would pervade the whole team. I mean they’ll win anyway, but it would be nice to have him in charge as well.”
With 362 wickets from 113 matches at an average of 34.36 including 20 five-wicket hauls, Vettori is the second most successful left-arm spinner in Test history after Rangana Herath. Aside from his exploits with the ball, he was also a more than handy batsman lower down the order as evidenced by his 4531 Test runs at an average of 30.
The heart of the matter
Even though both batsmen had batted in the middle-order throughout their respective careers, Vettori has opted for Ponting and Dravid to open. The middle-order comprises Kohli, de Villiers and Tendulkar. Sangakkara at number six and the explosiveness of Gilchrist following him should make it quite difficult for opposition bowlers.
The new-ball will be shared by two of the most relentless and challenging seamers to have ever played the game. When batsmen at the other end of the spectrum somehow find a way to get past the duo, they will have to contend with the dream spin combination of Warne and Muralitharan. The fact that Kallis has to sit out of the main eleven shows the immense strength of the team.
Daniel Vettori’s All Time XI: Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Sachin Tendulkar, Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist (WK), Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath, Sir Richard Hadlee and Jacques Kallis (12th man).
Head coach Vettori and captain Kohli are currently enduring a nightmarish IPL season in the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) camp. The side play their final group game against Delhi Daredevils on the 14th.
Vettori’s decision to pick Kohli as captain of the dream team could stem from their close working relationship with RCB. While the batting lineup is filled with imposing names, the bowling attack also sports a menacing look to it. The only flaw in the main 11 might be the absence of a fifth bowler. Perhaps a specialist batsman can swap places with all-rounder Kallis.