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The current best World XI in ODI cricket 

Modified 07 Feb 2020, 16:16 IST

How many of England
How many of England's World Cup-winning stars will make our XI?

With ODI cricket having dominated 2019, in the afterglow of the World Cup we examine who has forced their way into the world's best ODI team and who has dropped out. This team will be based on ODI cricket in 2019 and 2020 in the context of games played and accumulated statistics.

Let's start how any cricket XI starts, with the openers. The contenders for this are Rohit Sharma, Shai Hope, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Jason Roy. Rohit Sharma is the easiest choice of all the batsmen, let alone openers, as he recorded 1,490 runs in 2019 while adding another 171 in 2020 so far, making him the top scorer by a distance in recent times.

Despite Finch managing over 1,000 runs at an average of over 50, it has to be Jason Roy as the second opener. Despite being behind Hope, Finch, Khawaja and Imam-ul-Haq in run making he has a superior average of 70.41 while also having a better strike rate of 118.18, which is staggering in this format. Our number three contest was fairly easy.

Rohit Sharma and Jason Roy are the opening combination for this team.
Rohit Sharma and Jason Roy are the opening combination for this team.

Virat Kohli's achievements have been very impressive over the last decade and even though competition comes tough from Babar Azam and Kane Williamson, he keeps his favourite spot. Kohli would also take the captaincy as he is the most experienced captain out of the players we picked in this team.

Also see – IPL 2020 time table

It is better to not deviate too much from usual roles of the players contending for spots in the team so rather than put the next two best batsmen at 4 and 5, the aforementioned Babar and Williamson, it is wise to choose one to occupy the important role of number four batsman. Babar Azam has scored around 150 extra runs than Kane in the same number of matches with a marginally better average and far better strike rate so the Pakistani batting starlet gets the nod for this role.

There are a few strong middle order contenders for the number five spot, such as Ross Taylor, Faf du Plessis, Eoin Morgan and even Rassie van der Dussen, but Shakib al-Hasan has made 746 runs at a monstrous average of 93.25 to go with his evident bowling pedigree, so the flexible Bangladeshi takes the number five spot. Despite his recent ban, his achievements from last year are too significant to exclude al Hasan from the team, although if a replacement was forced, it would be either Ross Taylor or Eoin Morgan.

Another all-rounder making the team who has impressed so much so that he took the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, for both his World Cup and Ashes performances, is Ben Stokes, who scored 719 runs at an average of almost 60 at number five and six to go with his more than handy pace bowling, meaning he is ideal for the second all-rounder role.

Ben Stokes stood up for his nation in the 2019 World Cup final.
Ben Stokes stood up for his nation in the 2019 World Cup final.

The wicket-keeper choice is one of the hardest for this XI, as Jos Buttler and MS Dhoni both had stellar years. Englishman Buttler managed 667 runs at an average of 47.64 with a huge strike rate of 135.56, compared to MS Dhoni's 600 runs at an average of exactly 60, with a lower strike rate of 82.30. While runs made were similar and Dhoni has the higher average, Buttler did more damage due to the sky high strike-rate, which is around 60% better than Dhoni's, which proves that Jos Buttler is the perfect finisher and keeper for this team. Buttler also managed more overall dismissals as wicket-keeper in the calendar year.

Picking another spinner to accompany the all-rounder skills of Shakib al Hasan was extremely difficult, because no spinner had an outstanding year in this format. The only two who really made any sort of splash in ODI matches were the Indian duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, and in the interest of keeping the team balanced, it is always better to have a leggie in the team.

Yadav picked up 32 wickets to Chahal's 29, which are both good returns, but the rest of the stats aren't exactly eye-popping. Yadav's average is a miserable 34.68 to Chahal's 28.10, while the economies are nothing to write home about with Yadav's 5.33 against Chahal's 5.73. Despite Chahal having a poorer economy and three wickets fewer, he played 7 fewer matches and this shows in the averages, meaning Yuzvendra Chahal is probably more deserving of a place in this XI.

Yuzvendra Chahal has an expensive day at the 2019 World Cup
Yuzvendra Chahal has an expensive day at the 2019 World Cup

There are many options however for the pacers, who performed significantly better in all departments than the spinners. Ten players have outstanding records in this format in recent times, with these ten being Mohammad Shami, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Mustafizur Rahman, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jasprit Bumrah, Jofra Archer and our wildcard Nosaina Pokana from Papua New Guinea.

For this XI, let's pick two bowlers who are predominant with the new ball and one who can enter the attack later on. The players ruled out now are Mustafizur, with a startling economy of 6.77, meaning he is too much of a run-leaking risk at the moment, Bumrah and Archer, who both only have averages of 24 and significantly less wickets than some at the top of the list despite having economies of around 4 and a half, which are very impressive. Nevertheless, these two bowlers with huge star quality will miss out on this occasion.

The last to be ruled out is Nosaina Pokana despite his average of just 14.25, easily the best among the top wicket takers with a superior economy to anyone else of just 3.82. While the opposition he plays against and Papua New Guinea's awful record in the format is the reason he misses out, we must remember you can only play who is in front of you and someone coming from Papua New Guinea putting in these numbers in a longer format than T20 is exceptional, so Pokana was very close.

Nosaina Pokana steams in for a spell.
Nosaina Pokana steams in for a spell.

The opening combination therefore must be two of Shami, Boult, Bhuvneshwar and Starc with the third pacer a battle between Ferguson and Cummins. Mohammad Shami gets the nod, as he is the top wicket taker across the year in the format and his average is only bettered by Starc among these four. Owing to a very impressive economy of just 4.70 and 5 more wickets than the next best bowler, Trent Boult takes his place, although Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mitchell Starc both had exceptional years.

The final place in the line-up was a hard one to choose. Both Ferguson and Cummins are renowned for coming into a match and lighting it up with their raw pace, manufacturing wickets when things are going slow for their team. Ultimately, despite having four more overall wickets, Pat Cummins has a better economy of 4.73 compared to Ferguson's 5.19 and a better average of 21.61 to Ferguson's 23.71 and it must also be added that Cummins' work ethic over the last few years across all formats in barely missing a game has been exceptional, especially after all the injury problems early in his career.

Pat Cummins celebrates for Australia at the 2019 World Cup.
Pat Cummins celebrates for Australia at the 2019 World Cup.

This also makes the team a little more flexible having Shami and Cummins, as both can interchange roles opening the bowling and coming in first change, although for Shami is more effective when he opens and Cummins is just as effective in any role, which is why he is the ideal candidate to come in for first change.

So, our World XI in ODI cricket right now is as follows:

Rohit Sharma (India), Jason Roy (England), Virat Kohli (C) (India), Babar Azam (Pakistan), Shakib al-Hasan (Bangladesh), Ben Stokes (England), Jos Buttler (W) (England), Pat Cummins (Australia), Mohammad Shami (India), Trent Boult (New Zealand), Yuzvendra Chahal (India).

Note: All statistics as of February 6, 2020. Stats are included from January 1, 2019 to date.

Also read: A World XI that can challenge India at home in Test cricket

Published 06 Feb 2020, 19:43 IST
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