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To mark India’s victory in 500th Test, an all-time XI with a difference

Instead of a favourite all-time XI, here’s a team of the 11 best players who never played a Test for India.

cricket Updated: Sep 30, 2016 13:40 IST
Suveen Sinha
To mark India’s victory in its 500th Test, against New Zealand in Kanpur last week, here’s an all-time XI of the 11 best players who never played for India.
To mark India’s victory in its 500th Test, against New Zealand in Kanpur last week, here’s an all-time XI of the 11 best players who never played for India.(AFP)

When Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli were ratcheting up their world record 664-run partnership in school cricket in 1988, Amol Mazumdar was padded up. It was his turn to bat next, which never came because Tendulkar and Kambli did not get out.

That was the trailer to what might one day become a tragic movie on Mazumdar’s career – he never got to play for India. Did he deserve to?

You might think he did. On his first class debut, for Mumbai, he scored 260 in a Ranji Trophy game against Haryana. By the time he retired in 2014, he had 171 first class matches under his belt, in which he scored 11,167 runs at an average of 48.13, with 30 centuries.

As India played its 500th Test match and won it in style against New Zealand in Kanpur, many people trotted out their favourite all-time Test elevens. Let’s go the other way here and make a team of the 11 best players who never played a Test for India.

Read | Best of the bests: Former cricketers select Indian Test team for all seasons

Mazumdar, of course, is a shoo-in. But the number of contenders is so large this is going to be a selection headache.

1. Amol Mazumdar

Right-hand bat

First class matches: 171

Runs: 11,167

Average: 48.13

Centuries: 30

2. Padmakar Shivalkar

Slow left-arm bowler

First class matches: 124

Wickets: 589

Average: 19.69

Five wickets in an innings: 42

When Mazumdar retired in 2014, some hailed him as the “Shivalkar of batting”. They were referring to Padmakar Shivalkar, a slow left-arm bowler. He, like Mazumdar, was a stalwart for Mumbai, but never played a Test for India because he happened to be a contemporary of the famed spin quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, and S Venkatraghavan. He is one of two Indian players who never played a Test for India yet found a place in Sunil Gavaskar’s Idols, a book on the players he admires.

3. Rajinder Goel

Slow left-arm bowler

First class matches: 157

Wickets: 750

Average: 18.58

Five wickets in an innings: 59

The other Indian player who was among Gavaskar’s Idols despite not having played a Test for India was Rajinder Goel. His stats, if anything, are better than even Shivalkar’s. “He was one of the greatest I ever played against,” wrote Gavaskar. Maybe because Goel, playing for Haryana, got Mumbai’s Gavaskar out at least five times.

4. Utpal Chatterjee

Slow left-arm bowler

First class matches: 129

Wickets: 504

Average: 24.9

Five wickets in an innings: 32

It’s turning out to be a parade of slow left-armers. Chatterjee was not kept out of the Indian team by the quartet, but he flourished for West Bengal in the 1990s, when the triplet of Anil Kumble, Vankatpathy Raju, and Rajesh Chouhan often occupied the bowling slots in domestic matches, and ground teams into the dust – you could actually see dust rise where the ball, bat, or the batsman’s shoe hit the pitch. Three months short of his 31st birthday, Chatterjee was picked to play ODIs, in which he did not do much. That was the end of his India career, though he continued to play first-class cricket till 2005.

5. Ashish Winston Zaidi

Right arm fast-medium

First class matches: 110

Wickets: 378

Average: 27.79

Five wickets in an innings: 19

Amar Akbar Anthony to his teammates, Ashish Winston Zaidi was a child prodigy who started to play for Uttar Pradesh at the age of 17, and continued till he turned 35, in 2006. His prime came before cricketers from small towns, and from Ranji teams other than Delhi, Mumbai, and Karnataka, became regulars in the Indian cricket team. In his 18 years, Zaidi bowled on pitches that were a fast bowler’s nightmare. But he did not miss a season because of injury. He later became a coach for Uttar Pradesh and groomed the likes of Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

6. Sridharan Sharath

Left-hand bat

First class matches: 139

Runs: 8,700

Average: 51.17

Centuries: 27

Sridharan Sharath shone for 15 seasons in domestic cricket – look at that average. Unfortunately, he started in 1992-93 and ended in 2007. That roughly coincides with the era of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, and Sourav Ganguly. Sharath was not the prettiest to watch, and he was not the leanest in the team. But his deeds for Tamil Nadu were compared with what Arjuna Ranatunga did for Sri Lanka.

7. KP Bhaskar

Right-hand bat

First class matches: 95

Runs: 5,443

Average: 52.84

Centuries: 18

Bhaskar was born in Trivandrum and played for Delhi, but could not cover the distance from Ranji to the Indian Test team, though he averaged close to 70 between 1983 and 1989 with 13 centuries. He was a standby for the tour to Sri Lanka in 1985, but got no closer to the playing XI. Like Sharath, Bhaskar had a reputation for doing well when the chips were down. But he could not continue his campaign beyond the age of 32, and retired after the 1994-95 season.

8. Amarjit Kaypee

Right-hand bat

First class matches: 117

Runs: 7,894

Average: 52.27

Centuries: 27

When Amol Mazumdar became the highest run-scorer in Ranji Trophy, he overtook Amarji Kaypee. Kaypee played domestic cricket for 20 years for Haryana and Punjab. At the press conference to announce his retirement, Kaypee said the “partisan attitude” of selectors had kept him out of the Indian team.

9. Yere Goud

Right-hand bat

First class matches: 134

Runs: 7,650

Average: 45.53

Centuries: 16

Yere Karekal Thipanna Goud first played for his home state, Karnataka, and then moved to Railways. He helped Railways to two Ranji titles. He was part of the India A side in 2001-02, but that was as close as he got to playing for India. Former India fast bowler Javagal Srikanth called him the Rahul Dravid of Railways. That sort of sums up Goud’s reliability and consistency.

10. Rashmi Ranjan Parida

Right-hand bat

First class matches: 139

Runs: 8,317

Average: 42.21

Centuries: 16

All those runs in domestic cricket did not get Rashmi Parida a place in the Indian team, but he made sure he won a Ranji trophy title. When he could not do it for Orissa in 14 attempts, he moved to Assam, and then to Rajasthan. He scored 56 and 89 in the final to help Rajasthan win the Ranji trophy in 2010-11, which it defended successfully the next year.

11. Connor Williams

Left-hand bat

First class matches: 124

Runs: 7,942

Average: 39.90

Centuries: 19

Tragedies come in all forms. Connor Williams of Baroda played for India against South Africa in a “Test” at Centurion in 2001. But India refused to accept Mike Denness as the match referee and the ICC took away the official status from the match. Williams opened the batting and scored 42 against a five-man pace attack. He was never picked for India again.

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