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MY BEST Indian XI ever is, in batting order: Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Merchant, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar,Vijay Hazare, Nawab of Pataudi Jr (Mansur Ali Khan, captain), FM Engineer (wicketkeeper), Kapil Dev, Vinoo Mankad, Amar Singh and BS Chandrasekhar. Reserves: Subash Gupte, Gundappa Vishwanath, Saurav Ganguly and Bishen Bedi.

Most of the players I have chosen are obvious. Merchant has the second highest first-class average in the history of the game and a batsman Alec Bedser rated as the best in the world, Hazare scored a century in each innings against Bradman’s Australians in 1947. I choose Chandrasekhar ahead of Subash Gupte, my childhood hero after a great deal of thought. I did so because Chandrasekhar’s bowling often won India matches like the Oval Test of 1971, one of the red letter days in my life as I saw India win, and many other Tests. Mankad versus Bedi was tough but while there was not much to choose between the two as spin bowlers, Mankad was incomparably the better batsman. Imagine Mankad batting at nine, what depth this batting line-up has. Pataudi Jr may be considered controversial. But he was a fine batsman with one eye, and, perhaps the most imaginative, daring Indian captain ever who rescued India after the 42 all out series in England in 1974. Hence the captaincy. I do not nominate a vice-captain as any number can captain this side.

© Mihir Bose


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