Why Rahul Dravid should have found a place in Kapil Dev’s all-time best ODI XI

Rahul Dravid (above) was left out of Kapil Dev’s all-time best Indian ODI eleven © Getty Images

Kapil Dev picked an all-time great Indian One-Day International team which should find most people in agreement. The exclusion of Rahul Dravid, however, is contentious, feels H Natarajan.

When someone of the stature of Kapil Dev picks his all-time best Indian team, then it has lot of weightage. Kapil was one of the finest all-rounders in the game at a time when cricket had the likes of Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee. Kapil was a dexterous destroyer with the bat, brilliant with the ball and an outstanding fielder. He led by inspiration — the high point of which was 1983 World Cup which he led to victory against all odds.

Team selections — especially in India — can raise much heartburn. But on Thursday, Kapil came very close to naming a team which should satisfy most connoisseurs of the game in the country.

Kapil’s All-time ODI XI:

1. Sachin Tendulkar
2. Sourav Ganguly
3. Virender Sehwag
4. Virat Kohli
5. Mohammad Azharuddin
6. Yuvraj Singh
7. MS Dhoni (captain)
8. Anil Kumble
9. Harbhajan Singh
10. Javagal Srinath
11. Zaheer Khan

12th Man: Ravindra Jadeja

Kapil did not consider himself for selection because he picked the team. That makes sense. But an all-time best India One-Day International (ODI) side minus Kapil is unthinkable. For me — and I guess for most people — he should take the place of Harbhajan Singh. A side needs three fast bowlers and the XI picked by Kapil falls short in that respect. With Kapil in the side, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath will have quality back-up to swing the new ball and the old. Anil Kumble may be the one specialist spinner, but there are several other spinners in the XI who have been match-winning bowlers like Yuvraj Singh (especially in the 2011 World Cup), Virender Sehwag (94 wickets) and Sachin Tendulkar (154 wickets with two five-fors). Besides, the team has a Sourav Ganguly, who can chip in when needed. The options are aplenty for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who remains captain despite Kapil’s presence in the XI.

Dravid for Azharuddin

If there is one critical shortcoming in the side, it has no batsman who can drop anchor and play the waiting game in a crisis. Ideally a team needs at least one such player. And in that respect, the world has not seen a better batsman than Rahul Dravid. It’s a very tough call, but I think he should come in place of Mohammad Azharuddin.

Player M I Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
Rahul Dravid 344 318 10,889 153 39.16 71.24 12 83
Md Azharuddin 334 308 9,378 153* 36.92 74.02 7 58

As one can see from the above stats, there is very little to choose between the two in terms of their ODI numbers. Azhar averages 36.92, while Dravid averages 39.16. Azhar’s strike-rate is 74.02, while Dravid’s is 71.24. Both batsmen have a highest of 153, though Dravid has scored five more centuries while playing just 10 more innings than Azhar. Dravid also leaves Azhar far behind in terms of half-centuries scored: 83 against Azhar’s 58. Both players have been assets on the field. Where Dravid scores over Azhar is that he can keep wickets and bat anywhere in the order. Despite the fact that Azhar once held the fastest hundred in ODI history, Dravid has to come in the XI to bring balance to the side.

The opening combine

Though Kapil has not spoken about the batting order and though the Sachin Tendulkar-Sourav Ganguly  opening pair was comparatively more successful  (see table below) and bring in value as a left-right combine than the all-right pair of Tendulkar-Sehwag, it still makes better sense to go with the latter. For two reasons: Firstly, it’s a no-brainer to give Sehwag as many overs as possible, which means he has to come right up the order. Sehwag is a destroyer who is feared by all opposition. Secondly, Ganguly is a much better player of spin — left-arm in particular — and can come later in the order to sort out the slow bowlers. Ganguly can adjust to the middle order far better than Sehwag, who was predominantly been an opener for the greater part of his career.

Partnership I Runs HS Ave 100s 50s
Tendulkar-Ganguly 136 6,609 258 49.32 21 23
Tendulkar-Sehwag 93 3,919 182 42.13 12 18

With Dravid coming in for Azharuddin and Kapil stepping in for Harbhajan, here is the slightly modified XI in batting order:

1. Sachin Tendulkar
2. Virender Sehwag
3. Rahul Dravid
4. Virat Kohli
5. Sourav Ganguly
6. Yuvraj Singh
7. MS Dhoni (captain)
8. Kapil Dev
9. Anil Kumble
10. Javagal Srinath
11. Zaheer Khan

12th Man: Ravindra Jadeja

Batting records:

Batsman M I Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 463 452 18,426 200* 44.83 86.23 49 96
Virender Sehwag 251 245 8,273 219 35.05 104.33 15 38
Rahul Dravid 344 318 10,889 153 39.16 71.24 12 83
Virat Kohli 113 108 4,575 183 49.72 86.64 15 24
Sourav Ganguly 311 300 11,363 183 41.02 73.7 22 72
Yuvraj Singh 282 260 8,211 139 36.98 87.64 13 50
MS Dhoni 226 200 7,358 183* 51.45 88.17 8 48
Kapil Dev 225 198 3,783 175* 23.79 95.07 1 14
Anil Kumble 271 136 938 26 10.53 61.06 0 0
Javagal Srinath 229 121 883 53 10.63 79.62 0 1
Zaheer Khan 200 101 792 34* 12 73.46 0 0
Total 2915 2439 75,491 219 36.71 83.24 135 426
                 
Ravindra Jadeja 80 54 1,242 78 32.68 80.23 0 6
 

Bowling records:

Player M Wkts Ave SR Eco Best 4WI 5WI
Sachin Tendulkar 463 154 44.48 52.2 5.1 5 for 32 4 2
Virender Sehwag 251 96 40.13 45.7 5.26 4 for 6 1 0
Rahul Dravid 344 4 42.5 46.5 5.48 2 for 43 0 0
Virat Kohli 113 2 188 193.5 5.82 1 for 20 0 0
Sourav Ganguly 311 100 38.49 45.6 5.06 5 for 16 1 2
Yuvraj Singh 282 109 37.95 44.9 5.06 5 for 31 2 1
MS Dhoni 226 1 31 36 5.16 1 for 14 0 0
Kapil Dev 225 253 27.45 44.2 3.71 5 for 43 3 1
Anil Kumble 271 337 30.89 43 4.3 6 for 12 8 2
Javagal Srinath 229 315 28.08 37.8 4.44 5 for 23 7 3
Zaheer Khan 200 282 29.43 35.8 4.93 5 for 42 7 1
Total 2915 1653 32.53 42.5 4.6 6 for 12 33 12
                 
Ravindra Jadeja 80 95 30.6 39.7 4.62 5 for 36 3 1

Stats by: Nishad Pai Vaidya

(H Natarajan, formerly All India Deputy Sports Editor of the Indian Express and Senior Editor with Cricinfo/Wisden, is the Executive Editor of CricketCountry.com. A prolific writer, he has written for many of the biggest newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. A great believer in the power of social media, he can be followed on Facebook at facebook.com/H.Natarajan and on Twitter at twitter/hnatarajan)