ICC World Cup 2019: India’s all-time World Cup XI - Virat Kohli misses out

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
May 21, 2019 08:33 AM IST

As the country gets ready to cheer for the ‘Men in Blue’ in the upcoming World Cup, we bring to you India’s all-time World Cup XI, comprising players who we think have had the maximum impact in World Cup campaigns.

“As a young boy I dreamt of winning this trophy; that’s where it all started,” said the cricketer who has perhaps had the biggest impact on the sport globally. These words of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who finally became a world champion in his sixth attempt in 2011, are an apt reflection of what the showpiece event means to cricketers and cricket fans across the globe. (Complete coverage of ICC Cricket World Cup)

India players Kapil Dev (l) and Man of the Match Mohinder Armanath pictured after the 1983 Prudential World Cup Final victory against West Indies at Lords on June 23, 1983 in London, England(Getty Images)
India players Kapil Dev (l) and Man of the Match Mohinder Armanath pictured after the 1983 Prudential World Cup Final victory against West Indies at Lords on June 23, 1983 in London, England(Getty Images)

For many kids in India the sport turned into an obsession after Kapil Dev and his team’s landmark win in the 1983 tournament. That victory changed the narrative of the sport forever, shifting its nerve centre from England to the subcontinent, as limited overs cricket zoomed ahead of Tests in terms of popularity.

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The 1987 World Cup was the true marker of this paradigm shift as the showpiece event moved out of England for the first time and was jointly hosted by India and Pakistan. Every four years Indian fans waited with bated breath for the team to repeat the success of 1983 and the moment arrived 28 years later. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was immortalised in the annals of Indian cricket history as he hit the winning six at the Wankhede Stadium in the final against Sri Lanka.

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As the country gets ready to cheer for the ‘Men in Blue’ in the upcoming World Cup, we bring to you India’s all-time World Cup XI, comprising players who we think have had the maximum impact on India’s World Cup campaigns. Another important factor that has been kept in mind while compiling this list is whether it will stand the test of time.

1) Sachin Tendulkar - (2278 runs @ 56.95 with 6 centuries and 15 half-centuries)

It is difficult to look past this man while compiling any kind of XI in cricket. Tendulkar’s impact on Indian cricket and on the World Cup can be gauged from the fact that he tops the all-time run charts and finished as the highest run-getter in the 1996 and 2003 tournaments. He was also India’s highest run-getter in the victorious 2011 campaign and is the best ODI batsman of all-time.

Sachin was no slouch with the ball either and on his day, could either bowl spin or seam depending on the conditions on offer, which was a great cushion to have for the captain.

2) Sourav Ganguly - (1006 runs @ 55.88 with 4 centuries and 3 half-centuries)

The man who led India to their second ever World Cup final is perhaps one of the finest ODI openers of all time. Ganguly stamped his class on the global tournament with a 97 against South Africa on his World Cup debut in 1999 and finished the tournament as India’s second highest run-getter. The campaign also includes the memorable 183 against Sri Lanka in Taunton. He also played a crucial role with the ball in the must-win match against England. In 2003, Ganguly’s timely century against Kenya in the semi-final paved the way for a summit clash with Australia. He was also India’s second-highest scorer in an otherwise disastrous 2007 campaign.

3) Rahul Dravid - (860 runs @ 61.42 with 2 centuries and 6 half-centuries)

Picked ahead of the finest ODI batsman of this generation, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid’s case is bolstered by his numbers and the ability to be the back-up wicket-keeper in the playing XI. Dravid was the highest run-getter in the 1999 tournament and played crucial knocks in the middle order in the 2003 event. Also, with two flamboyant openers at the top, Dravid’s ability to drop anchor makes him a perfect fit for the number three slot.

4) Mohinder Amarnath - (254 runs @ 21.16 and 16 wickets @ 26.93)

The man behind India’s 1983 success, Mohinder Amarnath cannot and should not be judged by his numbers alone. His ability as a batsman goes way beyond his numbers as he had a limited role to play with the willow in the three tournaments. The proverbial ‘man with the golden arm’ Amarnath’s bowling efforts saw India win the semi-final and the final of the 83 event. He is also part of an elite group of players who won the ‘Man of the Match’ award in the semi-final and final of the same event.

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5) Mohammed Azharuddin - (826 runs @ 39.33 with 8 half-centuries)

He captained India in three World Cups, which includes a semi-final finish in 1996 at home. A pillar of strength in the middle order, Azhar walks into the team due to his ability to be both a gatherer as well as a finisher. He made handy contributions in the 1987 campaign, which ended with a semi-final defeat to England.

6) Yuvraj Singh - (738 runs @ 52.71 & 20 wickets @ 23.10)

The southpaw is the spinning all-rounder in the team and walks into the XI on the back of a ‘Man of the Series’ showing in the victorious 2011 campaign. Yuvraj Singh’s ability to pick up wickets and also control runs makes him a handy part-timer to have in the side. Played several crucial knocks with the bat in the 2003 and 2011 tournaments.

7) MS Dhoni - (507 runs @ 42.25 with 3 half-centuries) - Vice-captain

Arguably the finest ODI wicket-keeper batsman of all-time and one of the best captains ever, MS Dhoni took India back to the zenith of ODI cricket with a title at home in 2011. His ability to read match situations from behind the stumps and turn the tide for his team with the bat makes him indispensable for any side. His brilliance was on view even in the 2015 tournament when he led India to a semi-final finish.

8) Kapil Dev - (669 runs @ 37.16 & 28 wickets @ 31.85) - Captain

The agent of change in Indian cricket, Kapil Dev was at his all-round best in the victorious 1983 campaign. Leading from the front, Kapil saved India from exiting the tournament with a brilliant 175 with his backs to the wall against Zimbabwe. While he remains India’s finest paceman ever, the catch that he took in the final to dismiss a rampant Vivian Richards remains a defining moment in the history of ODI cricket.

9) Javagal Srinath - (44 wickets @ 27.81)

A tireless soldier who represented India in four World Cups, Srinath was the leader of the attack in 1996, 1999 and 2003. With a semi-final and a final finish to his name, the right-arm paceman was the go to man for his captains in his heydays. His performance in the 2003 tournament, apart from the final, at the fag end of his career remains one of the high points of his journey as an international cricketer.

10) Anil Kumble - (31 wickets @ 22.83)

Anil Kumble continues to be the top tweaker for India at the showpiece event and is the lone full-time spinner in the squad. He finished the 1996 tournament as the highest wicket-taker but performances in the rest of the campaigns weren’t anything to write home about.

11) Zaheer Khan - (44 wickets @ 20.22)

The left-arm paceman is tied with Srinath for the most number of wickets for an Indian bowler, but he took far less number of matches to reach the feat. The spearhead of the attack in 2011, Zaheer was at his potent best on the flat subcontinental surfaces, finishing the tournament as the joint-highest wicket-taker. He was lethal even in the 2003 campaign as a young speedster.

12) Virat Kohli - (587 runs @ 41.92 with 2 centuries and 1 half-century)

The current Indian captain is the 12th man and misses out on a place just on the basis of the impact he has had in the two tournaments he played so far. Kohli’s World Cup debut was a grand one as he scored a century against Bangladesh, but his moment came in 2015 when he reached Australia as India’s batting spearhead. But apart from a century against Pakistan, Kohli didn’t have any other significant contribution in the campaign. Indian fans though would believe that this is the tournament that Kohli will stamp his class on.

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    Arnab Sen is the Sports Editor of Hindustan Times Digital, leading sports coverage on the digital and online arms of Hindustan Times. He has more than 12 years of experience of working for news channels, sports broadcasters, digital media and news wires. Covered global sporting events and enjoys writing on cricket and football.

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