The Debates have died and the debris has settled. ESPN Cricinfo have finally released their list of ALL-TIME WORLD XI. It is now time to move on to a list that is far more important. The one that is going to be revealed right here, in this very page which is being visited by millions of fans world over every day (curiously though, they all tend to have the same IP address), is a much more important and a far more patriotic list than that totally biased one which had only one Indian (imagine the atrocity of leaving Sanjay Bangar from an all time XI! Truly apocryphal!). In fact this list is full of Indians. It can be called…well…let’s say, All time Ridiculous Indian XI.
Now, before embarking on such a strenuous project which had the potential to consume most of my otherwise packed office hours (apply 4 point formula or read previous post), I did some extensive research of India’s capped players from the 90s. With a strong backing from this acquired data I have now decided to let this list out. Before going to the list let me take this opportunity to tender my apologies to Sachin Tendulkar and his fans. Though it is a criminal offence to leave Tendulkar out of any list relating to cricket I hope all you guys, including the great man himself, accede with me on perusal of the list below.
· Shiv Sundar Das
· Devang Gandhi
· Sanjay Bangar
· Akash Chopra
· Sujith Somasundar
The Final Cut: Sujith Somasundar and Devang Gandhi.
This deadly duo has all the attributes needed for a successful test match opening partnership. Firstly a very strong defense; next…hmmm…what else? I surely seem to be forgetting something here…Ok chuck it. An Honourable mention at this juncture has to be Aakash Chopra. If there was ever an example for cricket being a ‘gentleman’s game’ this man was it. He was so gentle with the ball and the bowlers - A strict ‘no no’ to any shot which needed some amount of force to carry it across the inner circle.
THE MIDDLE ORDER:
· Sanjay Bangar
· Vijay Bhardwaj
· Atul Wassan
· Hrishikesh Kanitkar
The Final Cut: Vijay Bhardwaj, Atul Wassan, Hrishikesh Kanitkar.
Vijay Bhardwaj is the perfect one drop foil for our majestic openers. It seems that he used to have great hand-eye coordination before he started wearing spectacles. The crowning moment in the chronicles of his three test career surely has to be a defiant 35-ball innings of 6 runs on a bouncy Sydney wicket against the furious pace of Brett Lee. Legend has it that after facing Brett Lee during that innings, Vijay was convinced that he had eyesight problems as he failed to spot the ball on more than one occasion.
Atul Wassan is one of those unfortunate dyslexic Indians who gets muddled up with numbers. Confusion with respect to batting and bowling averages made this gentle giant to assume that a high bowling average and a low batting average is the practiced agenda in cricket, while vice versa was the way to go. His exemplary batting average of 23.50 and not so bad Bowling average of 50.40 gets him into our middle order (though I am aware that he was actually chosen as a bowler, I would like to stick with my selection as I feel his analysis of Batting during ‘Fourth Umpire’ is far better than his analysis of bowling or, for that matter, his bowling itself).
A swat over mid wicket in fading light against Saqlain Mushtaq to seal a famous Indian win over arch rival Pakistan is the only reason why Hrishikesh Kanitkar is in this team. It’s not very different from the reason why he was in the Indian team during his illustrious career of 2 tests and 34 ODIs.
THE ALL ROUNDER: No nominees; SANJAY BANGAR. Period.
THE WICKET KEEPER:
· Sanjay Bangar (What? He can do anything on a cricket field!)
· Vijay Dahiya
· Saba Karim
· Deep Dasgupta
The Final Cut: Should we even have a speculation?
Of course DEEP DASGUPTA
Once when Geoffrey Boycott was asked who he thought was India’s best wicket keeper, he quipped in his usual Yorkshire accent that India’s best wicket keeper was Syed Kirmani, adding that India also possessed a gem of a ‘goal’ keeper in Deep Dasgupta. Such was the young Bengali ‘keeper’s aura. He redefined the art of wicket keeping with his nonchalant, casual ways behind the stumps which often led to even the soft spoken Sunil Joshi venturing into a tirade of choicest words from diverse Indian languages. Though an International Test Century against England does question his worth in this particular line up, his wicket keeping prowess and the very fact that he generously let ‘bye’gones be ‘bye’gones more than makes up for it.
THE MEDIUM PACERS:
· Tinu Yohannan
· Dodda Ganesh
· Debasis Mohanty
· David Johnson
· Harvinder Singh
· Sanjay Bangar
The Final Cut: Harvinder Singh, Dodda Ganesh
Harvinder Singh was the most feared spinner and the least feared medium pacer that India has ever produced. The variations with pace (Slower ball was his stock delivery, while ‘mystery’ ball was his surprise weapon as the ball often failed to reach the batsman) along with his vast experience (his 3 match test career spanned for an astonishing 3 years from 1998 to 2001) make Harvinder a sure shot in our line up.
Dodda Ganesh was a man of less words; and lesser wickets; and even lesser pace. Three attributes which make him an auto-pick.
· Nilesh Kulkarni
· Rahul Sanghvi
· Ashish Kapoor
· Harvinder Singh
· (Of course) Sanjay Bangar
The Final Cut: Ashish Kapoor, Nilesh Kulkarni
Ashish Kapoor was the classical off spinner India were looking for after the retirement of Venkatraghavan. After he came to the fore India have decided to stop looking for such options in the future. One of the reasons why his colourful 4 test match career didn’t garner enough attention was due to his constant shuttling between Punjab and Tamil Nadu. He made it such a habit that after a while he even divided his first class career between the 2 states.
Nilesh Kulkarni got a wicket of his first ball in international cricket when he dismissed Marvan Attapattu of Sri Lanka. He immediately decided that he had to finish his career on a high right then and there. Though he had taken the decision in his mind, mundane cricketing rules made him play the whole test match. He must have been a baffled man when he was asked to play the next match- Sri Lanka the opponents again- as well. When he got picked for one more test against Australia, he decided enough was enough. His brutal spell of 1/137 on that minefield in Chennai against the clueless Aussie batting order was enough to stamp his name in the annals of history. He never stepped onto an International Cricket field again.
THE ALL TIME RIDICULOUS INDIAN XI: Devang Gandhi, Sujith Somasundar, Vijay Bhardwaj, Atul Wassan, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, SANJAY BANGAR (Captain, Vice-Captain, 12th Man and Substitute Wicket Keeper), Deep Dasgupta (gk), Harvinder Singh, Dodda Ganesh, Ashish Kapoor, Nilesh Kulkarni
That, my folks, was the All Time Ridiculous Indian XI. There were some tough choices that were made and some hard decisions that were taken. As Ravi Shastri says, in the end Cricket is the real winner.
Sanjay Manjrekar, when asked about his controversial exclusion from the line up, had two words to say – “It’s Ridiculous!”
Of course Mr. Manjrekar. And we thank you for reiterating it.
We have also decided to give away a special ‘most diverse player’ award to Sanjay Bangar for getting nominated in all categories. That is something even the famous Sachin Tendulkar can only dream of.