As the World Cup 2019 gets underway, let’s look at the all-time greatest ODI XI of India.
1) Sachin Tendulkar - The master blaster holds almost all the prominent ODI records — most runs (18,426), maximum hundreds (49) and highest number of Man of the Match awards (62). The fact that he excelled in all countries, conditions and against every opponent makes this selection a no-brainer. Arguably, the most complete batsman the game has ever seen.
2) Sourav Ganguly - Sachin and Sourav formed one of the most formidable opening pairs in ODIs. Between 1997-2000, Sourav won as many ODIs for India, if not more, as his opening partner. From winning four consecutive Man-of-the-Match awards against Pakistan in the 1997 Sahara Cup to guiding India to the World Cup final in 2003, the Prince of Kolkata tasted phenomenal success in those 7 years of his career. As a captain, he rebuilt the Indian team after the sordid match-fixing saga as he backed talented youngsters such as Yuvraj Singh, Virendra Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
3) Virendra Sehwag - Arguably the most belligerent and buccaneering batsman of his generation, Sehwag’s mere presence at the crease sent shivers down bowlers' spines. Entertaining and selfless, he won as many matches as hearts. Though, on the whole, he underperformed in this format as compared to his spectacular Test career, the impact he had is undeniable.
4) Virat Kohli - If Sachin is the most complete batsman in the history of ODIs, Kohli is probably the most calibrated and clinical one. Just like Sachin, he has come good against all oppositions and in all conditions. He has already cracked an astonishing 41 ODI tons in 227 matches and is slated to obliterate most of the records established by Sachin.
5) Yuvraj Singh - The Frank Sinatra of Indian cricket. No Indian cricketer has made as many successful comebacks as him. A big tournament player, his all-round performances were instrumental in India winning the World Cup 2011. The most effortless and effulgent batsman when on song, he was also a handy spinner and a brilliant fielder.
6) MS Dhoni - An audacious batsman, a skillful wicketkeeper and a cerebral captain, Dhoni is a three-in-one cricketer. India won an array of prestigious tournaments - Asia Cup, Champions Trophy and the two World Cups (ODI and T20I) - under his stewardship. If Ganguly made Indian team a force to reckon with, Dhoni turned it into a formidable outfit.
7) Kapil Dev - The greatest all-rounder India has ever produced. He led from the front and propelled India to its maiden World Cup title in 1983. A spectacularly proficient seamer and an explosive batsman, Kapil, in an era when a strike-rate of anything over 60 was deemed as a norm, he scored runs at a strike-rate of around 100. An outlier and an outrageously talented cricketer.
8) Anil Kumble - He was the Glenn McGrath of spinners. Unerring accuracy and steadfast tenacity were his hallmarks. He never let batsmen score easy runs and, in the bargain, ended up snaffling hordes of wickets.
9) Zaheer Khan - One of the heroes of India's World Cup triumph in 2011, Zaheer marked his arrival on the scene with a bang in the Champions Trophy 2000 as a breakneck pacer. Later, he became a stupendously wily bowler, with cutters, yorkers and slow balls all in his arsenal. 'Zak', as he was fondly called, also added the knuckle ball to his repertoire and used to it good effect. A mentor and sounding board to young pacers, he has groomed Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and a host of other fast bowlers.
10) Jasprit Bumrah - Hailed as the best Indian pacer since Kapil, Bumrah has been in terrific form in the last couple of years. A rare blend of supersonic pace and crafty control, the right-arm pacer is hailed as the best ODI pacer at the moment. Also, he's arguably the greatest death-overs bowler India has seen. His record in slog overs at a time when conditions and rules are disproportionately stacked in batsmen's favour is incredible to say the least.
11) Kuldeep Yadav - He aspired to be a pacer and idolised Wasim Akram as a child, but took up spin at the insistence of his coach. His ability to snap up wickets consistently during the middle-overs has been instrumental in India's remarkable success in ODIs in last couple of years. Also, he's the first Indian spinner to attain considerable success overseas. His records in South Africa, New Zealand and England are a testament to his finesse and vast range.
Do tell us in the comments section if you agree or disagree with the author's selection.