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Aakash Chopra picks combined India-Australia Test team; includes only one current Indian player

Virender Sehwag is one of the openers in Aakash Chopra
Virender Sehwag is one of the openers in Aakash Chopra's combined India-Australia Test team
Kartik Iyer
Modified 23 Dec 2020, 11:42 IST

Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has picked a combined India-Australia Test team which includes players from the 1990s onwards. Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting are some of the prominent players who failed to find a place in this hypothetical outfit.

The reputed commentator did this exercise in a video shared on his Facebook page.

Aakash Chopra started by highlighting that he has only chosen players from his generation onwards. He has also only considered performances in matches between the two countries.

"I am going with people whom I have played with or against and some from the current generation. I am not going to the era of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev as I have not seen that era properly. So I started with say 90s and till now. My only criteria is the performance of the players when India and Australia have played each other."

Virender Sehwag was the first opener picked by Aakash Chopra, with David Warner excluded due to his indifferent performances in India.

"In my team, one of the openers is Virender Sehwag. He has an average of 41 against Australia and has struck three centuries, two of which came in Australia. He has scored a lot of runs against them, both home and away. I have not picked players like David Warner who have not done well in away conditions."

Aakash Chopra named Matthew Hayden as Sehwag's opening partner in this combined team.

"Along with him I have left-handed Matthew Hayden. He was an intimidating batsman. He used to sledge even while batting."

Cheteshwar Pujara was preferred by Aakash Chopra ahead of Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting as the No. 3 batsman.

"At No.3, you might say Rahul Dravid but I will say Cheteshwar Pujara. If you take India-Australia matches, Pujara has an average of 57 and has hit 5 centuries and won the last series almost single-handedly as a batsman."

He reasoned Dravid has not done much other than his two match-winning tons and Ponting has a poor record in India.

"Dravid's career average against Australia is 39 and he has scored only two hundreds, although both are huge ones in the wins at Adelaide and Eden Gardens. I am not even picking Ponting as he has not scored runs in India."

Aakash Chopra picked Sachin Tendulkar as the No. 4 batsman.

"Tendulkar at No.4, there is no doubt about that. He has an average of 55 and has hit 11 centuries."

VVS Laxman edged out Virat Kohli as the three-down batsman in Aakash Chopra's team.

"At No.5, I have picked VVS Laxman. He has an average of 49 and he has also hit 6 hundreds. Here I was a little split if Virat Kohli's name can come but I couldn't include him as in the last two-three series he has not scored that many runs."

Aakash Chopra chose Steve Smith as his final specialist batsman, observing the latter can probably swap places with Laxman in the batting order.

"At No.6, you generally want an all-rounder but when I see these two teams, no such player comes to mind. At No.6, Steve Smith although he should ideally be batted up the order. He has an average of nearly 80 against India and has 7 centuries. He can be sent above Laxman in the batting order."

Aakash Chopra preferred to go with Adam Gilchrist as the wicketkeeper-batsman ahead of MS Dhoni.

"At No.7, I have picked Adam Gilchrist. I was thinking about Dhoni as well but I have gone with Gilchrist. Both do not have extraordinary numbers but Gilchrist looks the best among the options available."

Aakash Chopra's picks of specialist bowlers in his combined India-Australia Test team

Aakash Chopra chose Anil Kumble as the leg-spinner ahead of Shane Warne
Aakash Chopra chose Anil Kumble as the leg-spinner ahead of Shane Warne

Anil Kumble was the first spinner picked by Aakash Chopra in his 12-member team, with the fourth bowler in his final XI to be picked based on the conditions. Shane Warne's poor returns against India ruled him out of contention.

"Anil Kumble at No.8. I will pick 12 players so that you have the option to play one or two spinners based on the conditions. Anil Kumble - maximum number of wickets, 10 five-wicket hauls, he has been an absolute champion. Warne's name does not come because his numbers against India are very ordinary. He has a strike rate of 91 and an average of 47."

Aakash Chopra opted for Nathan Lyon ahead of Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin for the off-spinner's role, and cited the former's superior record in Australian conditions.

"There was a toss-up between Nathan Lyon, Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin. I have gone with Lyon because you need to bowl in Australia as well. He is the better finger-spinner in Australian conditions."

Glenn McGrath was the first seamer picked by Aakash Chopra in this combined team.

"I have picked Glenn McGrath who has an unbelievable strike rate and an outstanding average. He has not played too many matches but has done a good job."

Zaheer Khan offers the left-arm variety in Aakash Chopra's chosen team.

"Then I have got Zaheer Khan. He has three 5-wicket hauls. The strike rate and average is slightly on the higher side because you don't get wickets in India that quickly."

Aakash Chopra opted for the express pace of Brett Lee ahead of Jason Gillespie, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc to round off his bowling attack.

"There was a toss-up between Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc. I have gone with Brett Lee. He has two 5-wicket hauls."

Aakash Chopra's combined India-Australia Test team: Virender Sehwag, Matthew Hayden, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Steve Smith, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Anil Kumble, Nathan Lyon, Glenn McGrath, Zaheer Khan, Brett Lee

Published 23 Dec 2020, 11:34 IST
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