Over the years, a lot has changed in limited-overs cricket. World Cups, ever since the first time the burly men from the Caribbean laid their hands on it in 1975, have always generated huge interest in all playing nations every four years.
It has travelled from the farthest Caribbean islands to the corners of the Outback in Australia. The subcontinent of India, however, has always been the centre of the feverish anticipation that always seems to engulf the nation every time the Cup happens.
To choose a few from the stellar list of cricketers who have been fortunate enough to wear national colours and play their hearts out every time on those 22 yards is a rather tough ask.
The best statistician, or even the most headstrong cricket critique, will find it an extremely difficult task to pick and choose from a host of classy knocks and brilliant spells over a spread of 40 long years.
When I actually sat down to do this, I finally get to experience the selector's inscrutable dilemma. Done, but it must be though; so here goes...
My Indian World Cup XI
1. Sachin Tendulkar - Well, just for the sheer quality of stroke play on any kind of surface against any kind of bowling attack. The right mix of aggression and sensible play is what makes this man the perfect choice for opener's slot. And, obviously, because he's Sachin Tendulkar.
2. Virender Sehwag - Who better to start the innings than the 'Nawab of Najafgarh' as he is popularly referred to; the sort of player who has the ability to take the game away from the opposition on his day. While he's not always been the most reliable of the lot, he certainly can be the most dangerous.
3. Virat Kohli - One of the most technically sound players in the game and has every shot in the book. He's proven time and time again that he has a calm head on his shoulders and been the finisher consistently for India. Perfect to round up the top order.
4. Yuvraj Singh - A prolific run-getter for India in the middle order. He's played the role of a sheet anchor and also a heavy-hitter as the situation has demanded. A natural stroke player, he has taken the opposition apart on many occasions. Add to that, the number of wickets he has picked up and the runs he has saved, an in-form Yuvraj is an asset to any team.
5. MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper) - He's been the best wicketkeeper-batsman we have had over the years and one of the best leaders. His cricketing prowess is demonstrated in every move he makes on the field and reflected in the amount of silverware he's won for India. The correct man to have standing behind the crease and leading the team.
6. Mohinder Amarnath - One of India's greatest all-rounders with a formidable record both with the ball and the bat. Known for his skill as a player as well as his solid temperament, he will always be an asset to have in any team.
7. Kapil Dev - One of India's best fast bowlers and a gritty middle order batsman. His 175 runs from 138 balls against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup was a knock to remeber. He is arguably India's best all-rounder ever.
8. Anil Kumble - India's highest wicket-taker both in Tests and ODI's, he has always been the man to go to for Indian skippers over the years. With the variety in his bowling and the buckets of experience, he is indispensable to the Indian team.
9. Harbhajan Singh - One of India's finest off spinners, he's consistently beem among the wickets for almost a decade. His bowling style has evolved with a lot more variety over the years. He's a definite choice for the second spinner.
10. Zaheer Khan - He's been the spearhead of the Indian pace attack for over a decade. With the ability to swing the ball off the deck as well as in the air and the gift of reversing the old ball, this cricket is my frontline fast bowler.
11. Mohammad Shami - Consistently figuring in the current Indian side, he is a man who bowls a consistent line and length at a brisk pace. While he does not have major experience, he does have the ability to swing both the new and the old ball. That's enough to make the final spot his.
Rest of the World XI
1. Viv Richards - The man who introduced swagger to the world on a cricket pitch. The man who could walk out and rip any bowling attack to shreds. For his ability to utterly dominate any bowler into submission, he is the man to have at the top.
2. Hashim Amla - To set the balance right, the man I choose to be at the other end at the outset is much calmer, but as dangerous. As someone, who with his prolific run-scoring ability, is known to bully Test bowlers, he has made himself into a very formidable ODI batsman too. An average of more than 50 and a strike rate touching 90 in more than 100 ODI's makes him an obvious choice for the opening slot.
3. Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper) - One of the most consistent wicketkeeper-batsmen of our time with a solid technique and a ton of experience, he is a dependable choice at No. 3.
4. AB de Villiers - This guy is as talented as they come. The way AB can pace his innings, combined with deft stroke play, makes him a perfect player to come in at this place in the batting order. He has the ability to play the long innings and can also thrash the bowling around, as the situation demands.
5. Steve Waugh (captain) - One of the coolest heads on the cricket field with an astute cricketing brain, there has not been a finer leader of men on a cricket pitch. On top of that, he is one of the finest middle order batsmen the world has ever seen. This one is a no-brainer.
6. Chris Cairns - One of the few all-rounders to complete the rare double of 200 wickets and 3000 ODI runs, he is an asset to play at this position for any team.
7. Imran Khan - He is arguably the best cricketer Pakistan has ever produced. An embodiment of grit and determination with superb ability, he is my second all-rounder in the team.
8. Wasim Akram - Pace and swing together from a short run up made Wasim Akram a modern legend of the game. He is the first of my fast bowlers.
9. Shane Warne - This team looks pretty scary now and I still have two more to go after this. The legendary leg-spinner, who could probably turn it on glass if asked to, is the first of my spinners.
10. Mutthiah Muralitharan - You probably had this one figured out already. He's an easy choice for the second spinner with his vicious turn and pin-point accuracy. And what's more, he's got a few scalps to show for it too.
11. Dale Steyn - He is arguably the best fast bowler in the game right now. If anyone can make the ball talk, it's this man. Aggressive, accurate and fast, the hitman from South African rounds it up.
One can but imagine what the result would have been if these two teams squared up against each other. One thing's for certain though. It'd have been one hell of a match.
(Views expressed by the writer are personal. If you want to share your thoughts on the game, mail your write-ups to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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