Only one current Indian players has managed to make the cut for Aakash Chopra’s combined India-Australia Test team. While the former India opener has picked up a star-studded team, he has ignored several big names like Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid as well current India skipper Virat Kohli. Aakash Chopra’s team consists of current players as well as the players he played with or against.
In a video posted on his official Facebook page, Aakash Chopra started by mentioning the criteria for his team-selection as he justified leaving out legendary players like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. He also said that he picked the team based on the players’ performance in the India-Australia games and not overall record.
“I am going with people whom I have played with or against and some from the current generation. I am not going to the era of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev as I have not seen that era properly. So I started with say 90s and till now. My only criteria is the performance of the players when India and Australia have played each other,” said Aakash Chopra.
Aakash Chopra’s team:
For the openers’ spot, the former opener went with Virender Sehwag and Matthew Hayden while stating that he ignored David Warner because of his poor track record in India. At No.3, he picked Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of the likes of Ponting and Dravid. He highlighted Pujara’s impressive record against Australia as well as his performance when India won the historic series Down Under in 2018/19 season. Pujara is the only active Indian player in the team.
“At No.3, you might say Rahul Dravid but I will say Cheteshwar Pujara. If you take India-Australia matches, Pujara has an average of 57 and has hit 5 centuries and won the last series almost single-handedly as a batsman.”
“Dravid’s career average against Australia is 39 and he has scored only two hundreds, although both are huge ones in the wins at Adelaide and Eden Gardens. I am not even picking Ponting as he has not scored runs in India,” said Aakash Chopra.
For the No.4 spot, the former-cricketer-turned-commentator went with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar before picking VVS Laxman for the next spot as he snubbed Kohli. Steve Smith was the last specialist batsman in Chopra’s team. For the wicketkeeper’s spot, Chopra said that he considered both MS Dhoni and Adam Gilchrist before picking the lattter.
“At No.5, I have picked VVS Laxman. He has an average of 49 and he has also hit 6 hundreds. Here I was a little split if Virat Kohli’s name can come but I couldn’t include him as in the last two-three series he has not scored that many runs,” he said.
“At No.7, I have picked Adam Gilchrist. I was thinking about Dhoni as well but I have gone with Gilchrist. Both do not have extraordinary numbers but Gilchrist looks the best among the options available,” said Aakash Chopra.
In the bowling department, he went with two spinners in the form of Anil Kumble and Nathan Lyon and three pacers in the form of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Zaheer Khan. Chopra considered the likes of Shane Warne, Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin too but eventually decided to snub them for his team.
“Anil Kumble at No.8. I will pick 12 players so that you have the option to play one or two spinners based on the conditions. Anil Kumble – maximum number of wickets, 10 five-wicket hauls, he has been an absolute champion. Warne’s name does not come because his numbers against India are very ordinary. He has a strike rate of 91 and an average of 47,” Aakash Chopra stated.
Aakash Chopra’s combined India-Australia Test team:
Virender Sehwag, Matthew Hayden, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Steve Smith, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Anil Kumble, Nathan Lyon, Glenn McGrath, Zaheer Khan, Brett Lee