It was a midnight in the autumn of 1947 when two new nations were born newly in the world map. Sir Cyril Radcliffe supposedly drew a line with a pencil in the then united India’s map to give the shape to two new nations – INDIA and PAKISTAN. 64 years down the lane, the two countries are among the elite few to have played the ultimate form of our game of cricket. And they had done so with some success. The third nation born from Pakistan namely Bangladesh is also a test playing nation though they have been struggling at the moment.
Nevertheless, had there been no Partition of India and the two countries (or three) had been united, how great would have the united team been. The battery of Pakistani pacers, the agility of Indian batsmen, some world class spinners and allrounders of repute, they would have been undisputed in world cricket. Here is an attempt to select an All time XI of the two great Teams – India and Pakistan combined. There may be some omissions and discretions but am selecting the best team I feel.
Test XI :-
Sunil Gavaskar: The “Little Master” from Mumbai is among the greatest openers of Post war era. His wide range of shots, his classy water tight technique and the bravery to face the destructive pacers without helmet all make him a perfect choice to open. Mudassar Nassar and more importantly Hanif Mohammed sprout from across the border but Sunny is among the peerless openers in World Cricket.
Virendar Sehwag: The daredevil from Delhi revolutionized the test batting. With an impeccable Hand-Eye coordination, he terrorized the pace bowlers and scripted some of the most destructive innings of test cricket. Though he has been susceptible to swing bowling and has not got a great record in England and South Africa, the overwhelming powers of hitting makes him get ticked. Saeed Anwar would have been a great choice too with all his sublime batting but somehow Sehwag is my choice.
Rahul Dravid: “The Wall” as he is remarked by many, Dravid is a man of moment in any situation where there is a trouble for the team. A player with commitment and concentration like no other, he has managed to be test cricket’s second highest scorer. Not much can be newly said of his abilities as they are already on display this season. But the reason for choosing him ahead of Zaheer Abbas is Dravid’s ability to script innings from almost any situation. He is one who can be bet safely to play for your life.
Sachin Tendulkar: Considered as only the next to Sir Don, the Mastero from Mumbai has almost every record in batting that one can think of. Longevity for 22 years on the highest circuit with success in every format, ability to bat in any gear all makes him the best batsmen ever to have been produced in Asia. He had almost every shot in the book and wedded innovation with convention with great success. Any World XI is likely to have him at no 4 and this is just an India-Pakistan XI. This was an undisputed call.
Javed Miandad: A fighter to the core. Blesses with immaculate technique and never say die spirit, he was the backbone of Pakistani batting in 1980s to early 1990s. His ability to soak the pressure and produce match saving and match winning innings, the class oozing in his batting all make him a perfect choice. Inzamam ul Haq and V.V.S.Laxman are two players who can compete with Miandad in terms of ability to play under pressure and shepherd the tail but Miandad sneaks in my XI.
Imran Khan: Probably the greatest allrounder Sir Sobers aside, Imran Khan is finest allrounder of Asia. He could walk into any side, any day for his batting or bowling individually alone. With the bat, he was streamlined with abilities to hit and defend astutely. As a bowler, he was among the pioneers of reverse swing and had an array of variations. As a skipper, he was among the best and he will lead this XI as their Captain.
Wasim Bari: A fine keeper with traditional safe pair of hands for pace and spin, Bari is holder of records for Pakistan with most dismissals. Infact no one from India too has been able to beat him in this accord. Rashid Latif was a good keeper too and so can be said of M.S.Dhoni who comes with additional quality of a batsman, but Bari gets the nod for his proven track record against pacers and spinners of quality. He was a useful batsman too.
Wasim Akram: Absolutely a peerless choice. The greatest left arm bowler in cricket, he could move the ball in both directions. He was a complete master of swing and seam bowling. A useful lower order batsman too, Akram is a real joy to watch as a bowler. Another unanimous pick in my squad.
Anil Kumble: A fighter to the core, Jumbo as he is better known is second only to Shane Warne in the lovely art of leg spin. Despite being written off, despite many feeling he never spun the ball much, Kumble ended up as the third highest wicket taker in tests behind Muralitharan and Warne. His fight, unerring accuracy, pace he imparted to the ball, his trajectory, his googlies and flippers all make him a perfect choice as a leg spinner. Probably his statemate Chandrashekar and Abdul Qadir may offer competition but Kumble wins hands down. His commitment is remarkable and he too can bat a bit.
Waqar Younis: Among the greatest exponent of reverse swing and late swing, Younis was a master of Yorkers. He is one of the fastest bowlers from Asia and had a wide range of deliveries, aimed at the stumps. He is one of the best pace bowlers of the subcontinent, with Akram he will form a very potent pace attack. Again not much choices to challenge him.
Erapalli Prasanna: The two nations had some quality spinners but off spinners of repute were not much to ponder. Prassana outthought his victims and had a magical arm that produced wickets in any kind of pitches. He had a big part in spin quartet and had an excellent arm ball and off break that had most batsmen guessing. Saqlain Mustaq, the most innovative offspinner ever can be chosen but he was better ODI bowler and was not a force in the latter part of the career. Prassana’s teammate Venkatraghavan and Harbhajan Singh can be chosen too, but Erapalli is my choice for the magic he produced.
To add a word on the ODI XI, it will read as: Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Inzamam, Miandad, Dhoni(WK/VC), Imran Khan(C), Akram, Kumble, Saqlain and Younis. Of these Tendulkar, Imran Khan, Akram and Waqar were unanimous picks. Ganguly ahead of Anwar for his fighting spirit and shher volume of runs he made. Dravid walks at No 3 despite the criticism of his batting resembling test mode because his competitor, Zaheer Abbas despite a wonderful record played much less compared to the Wall and Dravid at his peak could play quick fire innings too. Inzamam and Miandad are best under pressure and peerless in middle order. Dhoni is my wicket keeper for he has a safe pair of hands and above all his batting is a big plus. He can accumulate or attack and has a knack of being ice cool under pressure. Kumble is ahead of Afridi for the man’s ability to keep things tight even when down and out. Saqlain Mustaq deserves a place for all the change he brought to the finger spin with his innovations being a much better choice than Harbhajan by miles.
This make me rue : Had there been no RADCLIFFE LINE!!!