© Getty Images
The eclectic Indian XI, decorated with skills of defence, pace, control, and aggression  © Getty Images

With the present Indian team being considered a powerhouse of cricket, it is interesting to see that most of the current Indian players engage themselves in the practice of playing the game of football, apart from just cricket. Ayush Gupta wonders what if the Indian playing XI was transformed into a football XI and predicts the role of the Indian cricketers in the football XI.

The existing Indian cricket team has quite a few players who can engage in other sports outside cricket and sport examples of demonstrating abilities in other sports too. Football is one sport which brings out the best of the best of talents out of each and every individual. Most Indian cricketers love playing the sports and have set good examples. Let’s have a look at the various roles in football which can be fulfilled by an Indian cricketer.

Formation: 4-3-3

Suresh Raina (Goalkeeper): Raina is undoubtedly one of the best fielders in the Indian team. He is more or less an all-round fielder and can field well in almost any position inside the circle, be it point or covers. Raina perfectly suits in every position owing to his brilliant reflex, which is a quality that matters for a goalkeeper in football. Thus, going by his immense fielding tactics and quality, he perfectly fits in the role of a goalkeeper in the football XI.

MS Dhoni (Left Back): Although he is a wicketkeeper, it can be debated whether Dhoni can play goalkeeper. However, while playing football during practice sessions, he tends to play as a defender and is quite good at tackling players and taking the ball away from them as well as clearing it from danger. He is our left back.

Ravichandran Ashwin (Left Centre Back): Known for his control and variations, Ashwin seems to have a good control of the football. However, being a slow runner, he can fit in as a defender, especially the right centre back. With good control and great tackle skills that he exhibits during practice sessions, a football enthusiast like him is a must in the squad. READ: An XI of cricketers who have played other sports at international level

Akshar Patel (Right Centre Back): Owing to his ability to get wickets at the right time and fire with the bat when needed, Akshar is a surprise inclusion. He mostly fits in as someone who can play safe in the defence rather than in the centre, and the right centre back position suits him.

Ravindra Jadeja (Right Back): Jadeja has the ability to take the game away from any opposition in no time with the bat or the ball. He can be lethal, and owing to his ability to hold on to an innings, the role of a holding midfielder or defender perfectly suits him. Thus, going by the formation, the position of the right back is not a bad option for him. READ: Should there be room for human errors by umpires?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Left Midfielder): Bhuvneshwar has a good run-up and maintains line and length along with swing action of the ball. He can fit in the left midfield line up as the good pace can help him in building up the gameplay and his ability to swing the ball can help him in good aerial passes.

Mohit Sharma (Right Midfielder): Mohit can run in fast, bowl a good line and length, and can swing the ball off a length. Thus, with qualities similar to that of Bhuvneshwar’s, he fits in the midfield with the same advantages and takes the right midfield spot. READ:

Virat Kohli (Central Attacking Midfielder): Kohli is perfectly suited for the position as his pace, along with his aggression, suits the role. He can play coordinator between the players the way he does in the Indian squad. This will result in passes and assists, and, as a result, more scoring opportunities. It is also his preferred position in the sport as seen during practice games. He will also be a front-runner for the free-kick specialist.

Rohit Sharma (Left Winger): His explosive batsmanship makes Rohit one of the front-runners to play as a forward zone and act as a striker. However, the role of a winger can suit him as well: his attacking approach and him emerging as one of the breakthrough cricketers in Indian cricket are among the reasons he will fit in this position. He will also break through defenders or take the aerial route with curling crosses to his fellow forwards, as he loves playing the aerial shots in cricket. READ: N Srinivasan can learn from Sepp Blatter’s resignation as FIFA President

Umesh Yadav (Right Winger): Umesh can terrorise batsmen with his pace. The pace will enable him to run past defenders and break barriers. He can also assist using beautiful crosses owing to his ability to swing the ball. With his power he can be another fore-runner for the penalty specialist.

Ajinkya Rahane (Striker): The final spot in the team of the striker goes to Rahane. It is his talent to handle pressure and score big that earns him the coveted position. On the football pitch, his ability to control the ball and run fast to break the defensive barrier can make him the perfect striker, punching the ball hard enough to smash the net. A penalty specialist role cannot be ruled out either.

Ravi Shastri (Coach/Manager): A champion football team needs a world-class manager. Shastri can be the perfect man as the Indian team has gelled quite well under his guidance and supervision. Reaching the semi-finals of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 under his managerial career provides a fair look about his role. He can turn out be a successful asset in this sport as well. Whether he can match the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho will be something the world will want to see.

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer and is also a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) maniac. He can be followed on Twitter @Ayush24x7)