The first test against the Kiwis being played at Green Park, Kanpur would mark India's 500 test in its glorious history. For a nation which stepped into the test arena in 1932, Indian cricket has come a long way since its inception.
The seven decades in top flight cricket have seen India make giant strides from minnows to world beaters both on home friendly and hostile overseas conditions.
Celebrating this landmark moment, we have picked up our ‘Dream Indian Test team’ by selecting the best eleven cricketers who donned the whites for Team India in the longer format and contributed immensely to the success of the team over its course of history.
For selecting the team we have gone beyond statistics and selected those cricketers who had a significant impact in shaping up the history of Indian Test cricket.
Dream Test XI - Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly (Captain), Kapil Dev, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Bishen Singh Bedi
1. Sunil Gavaskar
When the world feared the potent West Indian pace battery of the 70's and 80’s, Sunil Gavaskar stood up to the challenge and combated them with his stoic defence and calm temperament. He was flawless in his technique and held back the opposition by occupying the crease on hostile batting conditions.
All through that test period, the 'Little master’ gave India the solid platform up the order and stood rock solid between victory and defeat. A prolific run getter in the late 70'S and 80's, he became the first batsman to get to 10000 runs in test cricket. An average of over 50 with 34 tons spoke about what the opener had achieved in his glittering test career.
2. Virender Sehwag:
Virender Sehwag was arguably the greatest match winner for India with the bat. Sehwag redefined how test openers approached the game. He was a belligerent stroke player gifted with superb hand eye coordination. Sehwag was attacking player by instinct and launched an onslaught on the opposition bowlers from the very start of the innings.
Once he had his eye in, Sehwag could decimate the best of bowling attacks with sheer disdain. India won many matches on the back of Sehwag’s scintillating knocks.
Sehwag is in the elite club of test batsman to have scored two triple centuries. Given the manner he played the game, a test average of just under fifty with a strike rate of 80 plus makes Sehwag a class act.
3. Rahul Dravid:
Rahul Dravid was India’s most consistent and dependable batsman of his era. Dravid was technically very sound and had a rock solid temperament. Dravid was solid in his defence and wore down attacks with his amazing concentration levels. His grit and character made him an accomplished test batsman in the hostile overseas conditions.
With the turn of the century Dravid earned the nickname “Wall” by becoming the lynch pin of the middle order. He was a master at accumulating runs with amazing consistency. Dravid’s name shall be etched in the history of Indian cricket for his selfless service to the national side.
An extremely fit cricketer courtesy his hard training regimen, he was a great close-in fielder with good reflexes and a safe pair of hands.
4. Sachin Tendulkar:
Sachin Tendulkar has been hailed as God’s gift to Indian cricket. Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar could be christened as the modern Bradman of test cricket. Sachin became India’s prolific run scoring machine for almost two decades.
His batting had all the hallmarks of a great player. Perfect balance, sublime timing, great repertoire of shots and the ability to play the ball late made him a class apart from the rest. Sachin was brilliant with his belligerent stroke play but could be solid in defence too. He had a penchant for scoring hundreds consistently.
His batting heroics turned him into a living legend for Indian fans, who revered him as a demi-god. Sachin was quite handy will his deceptive leg breaks which he jumbled up with a bagful of tricks. He showcased supreme commitment in his fielding too.
5. VVS Laxman:
VVS Laxman was one of most stylish batsmen to watch in test cricket. Laxman was pretty much like his state mate and former Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, as the two Hyderabadi left a mark of sorts with their wristy stroke play. Exquisite timing and silken touches were the hallmarks of his batting.
Laxman along with Dravid became the backbone of the Indian lower middle order. Laxman saved his best against the mighty Australian team of that era. VVS played some career defying knocks to take India out from the jaws of defeat by stringing partnerships with the tail-enders down the order. Besides his batting credentials, Laxman was a good slip fielder too.
6. Sourav Ganguly:
Sourav Ganguly had a touch of class and flair about his batting. Ganguly looked flamboyant with his exquisite stroke play through the off-side. Ganguly was blessed with sublime timings that helped him caress the ball through the covers. He was a gritty character and overcame adversity on many occasions. He was a good player of spin and used footwork to great effect in tonking spinners for big sixes. However, more than his batting, his charismatic captaincy would put him among the all-time greats of Indian cricket.
A born leader, Ganguly brought about a revolutionary change in India’s approach to play test cricket. A man who never minced his words. ‘Dada’ led by example with his motivational leadership and instilling a winning attitude in his players to fight till the very last.
7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni:
On pure wicket keeping skills the likes of Kirmani, Mongia and More would rate a little higher than Dhoni but if one takes into account the complete package of a wicketkeeper batsman, MS Dhoni was far ahead of the rest. MS Dhoni was an attacking batsman pretty much in the same mould as Aussie great Adam Gilchrist.
Dhoni provided the team with the much required impetus with his destructive stroke play. MSD had a calm and composed demeanour and was good reader of the game. His batting could be best labelled as unorthodox yet effective.
His wicket keeping was quite good as he took some acrobatic catches and effected lighting quick stumping’s courtesy his razor sharp reflexes.
8. Kapil Dev:
Arguably one of the greatest all-rounder the world has ever seen, Kapil Dev was one of the finest swing bowlers to have played for India. Dev had the ability to bowl some ripping out swingers that shaped away viciously from the batsmen.
An attacking batsman, Dev had a plethora of scoring shots in his arsenal. Dev was known to play some cameos down the order and entertain the crowds by hitting some lusty blows.
But it was his sheer motivation and tenacity which was the secret behind his longevity and success in test cricket. The 'Haryana Hurricane' was gifted with natural athleticism and that clearly showed in his superlative fielding.
A born leader, Dev had the ability to inspire his men through leading by example.
9. Anil Kumble:
Anil Kumble was India’s greatest match winner with the ball. The Karnataka leg spinner wasn’t a big tweaker of the ball but had deceptive variations up his sleeve to bamboozle the best of batsman. Kumble bowled his flippers at the brisk pace which hurried onto the batsman.
Kumble used the 'googly' as a deceptive weapon to outfox top class batsmen. Kumble was India’s trump card on spin friendly home conditions as he ran through batting line-ups of visiting sides on a consistent basis.
A brilliant student of the game, Kumble was second in command to Ganguly for most of that era. In a nutshell, Anil was a very competitive cricketer who played the game with full commitment and passion.
10. Javagal Srinath:
Javagal Srinath was one of the finest seamers to play for India. Srinanth led the Indian pace attack all through the 90s. Srinath had the ability to bowl in-swingers at a brisk pace. He had a heart of a lion and bowled with a great degree of zeal and commitment on placid tracks on the subcontinent.
Srinath formed a potent seam attack with fellow Venkatesh Prasad which provided the team with early breakthroughs on seamer friendly overseas conditions.
Srinath shall be remembered for carrying the burden of the pace attack on his shoulders that too in an era where bowlers of test pedigree were hard to find in India.
11. Bishen Singh Bedi:
Bishen Singh Bedi’s was India’s leading spinner of his time. Bedi was part of the famous spin quartet of the 70s and 80s. He was a master at deception. He plied his trade with plenty of variations in flight, loop and spin. He had a heart of a lion and was never afraid of giving his deliveries plenty of flight to give the batsman a chance to score off him. Bedi was a consistent wicket-taker for most of his career.
There are many cricketers who have contributed immensely to Indian test cricket and narrowly missed the cut of getting in the dream eleven but our endeavour has been to pick the best possible player for each of the specialized slot.
We would not let the contribution of other Indian test greats go unnoticed and shall soon come up with India’s second All-time Test XI