Best combined Test XI of India and Australia: Despite India’s arch-rivals being named Pakistan for chequered political relations, India shares a deep bond with Australia when we talk about infamous rivalries. Spanning from some hideous war of words to countless slams and allegations, this rivalry is very special in the context of cricket.
They say that cricket is a gentleman’s game but when you take the field, the dynamics are totally changed. It is very difficult to be gentle under Spartan circumstances with frayed nerves and an already abraded temper.
Yet, humans have always learned to adapt and so have cricketers who have transcended themselves beyond the mortal shell of a cricketer and established themselves in the pantheon of the Ungodly Gods, fighting it out for glory in the 22 yards.
In this story, we will be taking a look at eleven Gods today, a team combined of the best players in India and Australia in the longest format of the sport. To make things clear, this is a perspective-based post and may not tally with your preferences. However, we will really appreciate the fact f you can simply chime in with your valuable comments.
Sunil Gavaskar and Matthew Hayden
The master blaster from India had his own way with the mighty Australians despite India still taking those baby steps of transition from being just a cattle-fodder to a force to be reckoned with. Gavaskar was one of the most fearless batters in Test cricket and his effortless strokeplay made him one of the best batsmen to have graced the sport. More importantly, it came in the ages of helmet-less cricket with pacers regularly clocking 140 plus clicks. He played 125 Test matches, gathering 10122 runs at a blistering average of 51.12 that saw him amassing 34 centuries in the longest format of the sport. He also had very special credentials against Australia as he managed to amass 1550 runs from 20 Tests at an even better average of 51.66. He smashed 8 centuries and 4 half-centuries against the Aussies.
Haydos was downright destructive and straightaway fearsome. His colossal gait preceded his onslaught with the willow in his hands. He was a titan and the carnage that surrounded him was too overwhelming to be disregarded. He managed to amass 8625 runs from 103 Test matches. Against India, he whacked 1888 runs from 18 Tests at a staggering average of 59. He stitched together 6 centuries and 8 half-centuries to underline the majestic brilliance that he brought with himself to the platter.
Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting (cap), Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rishabh Pant (wk)
This is a very controversial middle-order that compelled me to drop Virat Kohli despite his staggering performances against Australia. It is ideally a heart-wrenching fact for me that I had to drop VK despite being an ardent aficionado of the Indian skipper. However, the legacies left behind by the others were excessively astronomical for Kohli to make the final cut.
Rahul Dravid will undoubtedly be bagging a spot in any best Test team of the world irrespective of the era and the circumstances. He was one of those rare players who personified the grueling format of the sport. He was a part of 164 Test matches, amassing 13288 runs at a brilliant average of 52.31. Now coming to his figures against Australia, they dropped by a significant notch but the impact that the wall has against the best bowling line-up of the world was absolutely extra-terrestrial. He played 33 Test matches against the Aussies, scoring 2166 runs at a decent average of 38.66. However, behind the façade of the massive veil that has been cast over Dravid’s figures lie three knocks that changed the face of the Indian cricket forever. A dogged 180 delivering India from the very jaws of humiliation in Eden Gardens and a scintillating 233 at Adelaide that helped India to pen a remarkable victory against the mighty Australians, were a couple of knocks that will remain etched in the memories of Indian cricket as long as the sun shines.
Punter completely changed the definition of aggression in any format of cricket that he was a part of as a skipper. Not only was he an aggressive captain but he was a glorious batsman and was absolutely unstoppable in his pursuit of brilliance. The man starred in 168 Test matches and garnered 13378 runs at an astonishing average of 51 plus. His majestic excellence compounded against India as he ranged at an average of 54.36 with 2555 runs from 29 Tests. He also chronicled 8 centuries and 12 half-centuries to establish himself as an all-time great in this iconic rivalry.
The God of Indian cricket and arguably the God of cricket for many, Sachin Tendulkar is irrefutable in any form of the game, in any remote corner of the world and in any apparition. The desert storm against Shane Warne, the iconic upper-cut against Shoaib Akhtar and that incredulous offside-less display against Australia in Sydney were a few mere highlights of this man’s bedazzling brilliance. From 200 Test matches, Tendulkar garnered 15921 runs at a scintillating average of 53.78. His figures leaped up against Australia as he managed to score at an astonishing average of 55 and piled up 3630 runs. Patience, aggression and belief all converged in this man to make him a God for Indians and the world.
The biggest terror for Australia in Test cricket at one point in time became this lanky middle-order batsman who made the impossible happen with his extraordinary brand of cricketing display. Known for batting with the tail effortlessly and still prising out those massive scores, Laxman was simply unstoppable. He amplified himself in this infamous rivalry and made it a point to hurt the Australians in the most enduring ways possible. Including that famous 281 at Eden Gardens, Laxman piled up a staggering 2434 runs at a brilliant average of 49.67 against the Australians and all of this coming to bat at number five or six. He stitched together 6 centuries and 12 half-centuries in defying the Australians.
This will be the biggest controversy in this entire line-up that why would I go for Pant when Dhoni and Gilly, two of the world’s best wicket-keepers are available for selection. Being candid both the wicket-keepers couldn’t really impress against each other. Dhoni is definitely a remarkable wicket-keeper and so is Gilly but Pant pulled off three match-defining performances in a span of just 7 Tests and all of it came Down Under. Since Kohli mentioned being inclined towards impact players, if there is one man who has created the biggest impact in recent times against Australia, it is Pant. Another striking feature about him is he can be inserted in any part of the line-up and he will keep on doing what he does the best. Also, his ability to sustain pressure and play big strokes is what made me resort to this decision. He is a little bubble of rebellion, raring to explode on every single opportunity that comes his way. Also, he is a decent wicket-keeper and is an extremely valuable addition to the Indian squad. This man has played & test matches Down Under and has scored a rollicking 624 runs with a brilliant average of 62.40 and a breezy strike rate of 72 plus. Out of the 12 innings that he has played against Australia, he has registered three centuries and six half-centuries which is no mean feat for any youngster.
Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Brett Lee, Glenn Mc Grath
Another cause of debate will be how Shane Warne did not make the cut for this team. According to me, Harbhajan wasn’t the emperor of spin and yet he brought the Australian dynasty down on its knees in one of the most crucial periods of Indian cricket. The man played 18 Test matches against the Aussies and claimed 95 wickets against Australia at a brilliant average of 29. He was also the first Indian bowler to claim a hat-trick in Test cricket and that match will be remembered for so many other reasons, shadowing his brilliant bowling, crumbling the Australians once and for all.
If someone terrorized Australia more than anyone else, that was India’s best leg-spinner of all-time and that is Anil Kumble. Twisting and turning his way through a phalanx of legends with consummate ease, Kumble managed to claim 619 Test wickets. Out of these scalps, the highest came against Australia with the figure reading 111 wickets from just 20 Test matches. His skitter used to be one of the most lethal one in the world, especially given the fact that the pace was on the higher side, that found its root in his medium pace days.
The man who bloodied Rahul Dravid with a nasty bouncer kissing the corner of his ear, Brett Lee was one of the fastest bowlers on the face of the planet. It wasn’t easy to tread paths with him, especially when he used to charge in with that intimidating run-up and then belt those toe-crushing yorkers, derailing countless dreams along its way of carnage. He claimed 310 Test wickets that included 53 wickets against India coming alongside an augmented terrorizing platform that was spawned by the pace express.
If there was someone who troubled Sachin Tendulkar the most, it was Pidge. Known for his menacing line and length, McGrath rattled the Indian batters inside out. Despite the fact that his most astronomical success came against England, his numbers against India are equally grisly. He managed to claim 51 Test wickets against India that featured 2 fivers and an astonishing bowling average of 18.
Virat Kohli, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne, Steve Smith, Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Dave Warner, Allan Border and MS Dhoni