(From left) Mohammad Azharuddin, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Zaheer Khan. (Courtesy: Getty Images)
(From left) Mohammad Azharuddin, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Zaheer Khan. (Courtesy: Getty Images)

In the previous edition of this series I had created not one, but two all-time XIs for Hindus who have played Test cricket for India. They were formidable sides, both of them, strong enough to take on any similar XI from the country.

As I have said before, no country can boast of a cricket team as diverse in every sense of the word as India. Though the Parsees were the first Indian community to take on the British, the Hindus caught up quickly, and by the early 1910s the Bombay Presidency had turned into a Quadrangular.

Muslims have contributed as much to Indian cricket as any other community. India s first ever Test saw four Muslims in the side Jahangir Khan, Mohammad Nissar and the brothers Wazir and Nazir Ali. India s team for their third Test consisted of only Hindus (7) and Muslims (4); and in The Oval Test of 1936, India fielded 6 Muslims (Nissar, Jahangir and Wazir Ali all played, along with Mushtaq Ali, Dilawar Hussain and Baqa Jilani).

The Partition in 1947 saw Pakistan formed their own team. Three Indian Test cricketers Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Gul Mohammad, and Amir Elahi also played for Pakistan, as did two sons of Wazir Ali. Kardar, in fact, became Pakistan s first Test captain.

It is not the purpose of this article to hurt religious sentiments.

The count of Muslims in the Indian Test side has reduced significantly since 1947, but an all-time XI will still take on any other side.

Muslim XI

Mushtaq Ali, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Azharuddin, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (c), Abbas Ali Baig, Salim Durani, Syed Kirmani (wk), Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Mohammad Nissar, Ghulam Ahmed, Mohammad Kaif (sub).

Just like the Hindus, however, the Muslims have a trove of talent so rich that it is impossible to stop at just one team of eleven. Here, then, is the second team of the all-time Muslim XI.

Muslim 2nd XI

KC Ibrahim, Dilawar Hussain (wk), Wazir Ali, Ifthikar Ali Khan Pataudi (c), Gul Mohammed, Abid Ali, Nazir Ali, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Jahangir Khan, Munaf Patel, Arshad Ayub, Amir Elahi (sub).

(A New Delhi-based cricket author and historian, Gulu Ezekiel is the author of a dozen sports books including best-selling biographies of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. Formerly sports editor at Asian Age, NDTV and indya.com)