A red hot World XI test side
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Who'd make your cricket World XI?
Who would you put in a World XI for cricket tests? Harsh Agarwal presents his dream team.
1. Graeme Smith, South Africa. The most solid opener going in all conditions. A more dependable option than Alistair Cook. David Warner is a more attacking option, but his inconsistency goes against him. Whenever there is a crisis, Smith invariably shows up. Plus, he's wonderful slip fielder, which is always a plus.
2. Cheteshwar Pujara, India. The most promising young test batsman. He showed immense composure and temperament in South Africa, and is of course, a giant in the sub-continent. He scored beautiful hundreds in India and SA. Even though he is slow at the start of his innings, has the capacity to accelerate powerfully in the latter half of the innings. A new Rahul Dravid.
2. Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka. The number three position was a straight battle between Hashim Amla and Sangakkara. And there is no right answer here. They are both wonderful batsmen. Amla played more tests this year, but was lackluster against India. Sanga played just three tests, but was again in magnificent form. Plus, his ODI form was incredible as well. Amla would be as good.
4. Virat Kohli, India. Kohli is in red hot form, both in tests and ODIs. His innings in South Africa showed such precision of technique and the sense of responsibility he possesses is extraordinary for someone so young.
5. Michael Clarke, Australia. The man had a rather ordinary summer Ashes by his standards, but made a roaring comeback in the revenge series. A wonderful stroke maker, and the ideal number five.
6. Shane Watson, Australia. Watson really should not be here. He doesn't deserve to be. But it goes to show how bad the all-rounder chops are around the world. He does provide a very useful fifth bowling option, which can be invaluable.
If we were allowed to have the now-retired Jacques Kallis in the team, then I would pick him at number seven instead of Watson. Kallis is a rock of a cricketer. One of the all time great batsmen and a regular wicket taker with the ball.
7. AB de Villiers (w), South Africa. He has been the revelation of the year. A lot of people, including me, thought that the wicket-keeping responsibilities would bog down his batting, but instead his batting has blossomed. A wonderful stroke maker, and a man who has a knack of playing the right kind of innings as per the situation. Him and Clarke batting together on the second day of a test is a thought worth salivating on.
8. Vernon Philander, South Africa. The McGrath of this generation, SR of 37, and averaging below 20, and has played all around the world. Enough said.
9. Mitchell Johnson, Australia. Probably doesn't deserve to be here on consistency issues but anyone who saw him bowl in the recent Ashes cannot help but put him there. A fearsome bowler.
10. Dale Steyn, South Africa. The best fast bowler in the world without a doubt. Gets the best batsmen out with swing, pace and aggression. A dream bowler. Saw his best when he went through the Indian line-up in the second test on a dry, flattish pitch.
11. Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan. The spinner's spot is a fight between Ajmal and Rangana Herath. Graeme Swann didn't have the best year and Ashwin was great in India, but not outside. So, Ajmal vs Herath. Both are as good. I pick Ajmal simply because he has taken more wickets this year. Nothing to chose between the two.
Opening bowlers: Steyn and Philander
Slips - Clarke, Smith and Watson
Closest to the side: Amla, Du Plessis and Herath.
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