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Cricket World #GOAT XIs ODI

India's MS Dhoni

ODI cricket has seen a lot of changes over the last decade or so. Gone are the days when a strike rate of 75 was considered as good enough. Scores of 350 plus have become a norm and bowling figures of anything less than a run a ball is considered as an economical spell. Bigger bats, flatter pitches, the evolution of T20 cricket and the introduction of free hits have skewed the game heavily in the batsmen’s favor. Keeping all the modern needs of the game in mind, here’s my favourite ODI XI:

  1. Sachin Tendulkar – An all-time ODI XI of my generation cannot start without this man at the top. Not only is he the highest run getter in this format of the game, but was also the first to score a double hundred in the format. As with the longest format of the game, India’s batting often depended upon the kind of start that was given by Tendulkar and his opening partner (mostly Sourav Ganguly or Virender Sehwag). He went to score a staggering 49 hundreds in the format and even though that record could be toppled by the person coming in at 4, Tendulkar gave fans like us many memorable knocks like the one against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. [Mt. 463, Runs 18,426, Ave. 44.83, SR. 86.23]

  2. Kumar Sangakkara – May not be a position he batted at but this was the only place left to accommodate this stylish left hander from Sri Lanka. I did not see too many of those special Brian Lara knocks and hence Sangakkara, for me, was the most elegant left hander. His cover drives were an absolute treat to watch. He was more than a tidy gloveman and a very astute leader. In addition to his cricketing skills, I always enjoy listening to Sangakkara when he speaks. He managed to score four back to back hundreds in the 2015 World Cup hundreds, becoming the first ever to achieve this feat. He bowed out of the game while he was still at the peak of his prowess and is without doubt a Sri Lankan legend.  [Mt. 404, Runs 14,234, Ave. 41.98, SR. 78.86, Ct. 402, St. 99]

  3. Ricky Ponting (captain) – Two time World Cup winning captain and a two time Champions Trophy winning captain. A captaincy CV does not get more impressive than Ricky Ponting’s. The fact that his ODI average as a captain was higher than that as a normal player only goes on to show how much he thrived under the challenges of captaincy. Yes, he did have an invincible team at a time when he took over, but then again, a captain is only as good as his team. Ponting had the ability to dominate the opposition on his day and the best example of that was his belligerent hundred against India in the 2003 World Cup final. He never mixed his words and was always an ‘on your face’ sort of a character. We have seen the lighter side of Ponting during his Big Bash League commentary stints, but as a captain he got what he wanted from his players. [Mt. 375, Runs 13,704, Ave. 42.03, SR. 80.39]

  4. Virat Kohli – Probably the greatest active limited overs batsman at the moment. An average of close to 60 and he is only seven away from breaking Tendulkar’s record of most ODI hundreds. The consistency levels and the hunger which Virat Kohli has, is probably only matched only by Steve Smith in the current generation of cricketers. Kohli, like Ponting, wears his heart on his sleeve and is an extremely emotional cricketer. The fact that he goes about leading from the front and sets the standards makes everyone in the dressing room look up to him. [Mt. 248, Runs 11,867, Ave. 59.33, SR. 93.25]

  5. AB de Villiers – As I mentioned in my all-time test XI, de Villiers revolutionized the modern game of cricket. His ability to play shots all around the wicket, his athleticism on the field and his added ability to keep wickets makes him indispensable. de Villiers also holds the record for the fastest ODI fifty and hundred, which he registered in 2015 during his 44 ball 149 against the West Indies. In a recent interview Kohli mentioned that he does not need to communicate while running between the wickets with Mr. 360 and hence the partnership between these two would only be a nightmare for any bowler. [Mt. 228, Runs 9,577, Ave. 53.50, SR. 101.09]

  6. Ben Stokes – While it will be difficult to predict if Ben Stokes can repeat the level of heroics which he pulled off in the year gone by, it is definitely worth a gamble to have him penned in as the all-rounder given how rapidly the limited overs game has changed. The kind of composure he showed during the recently concluded World Cup was absolutely fantastic. While his bowling figures may not be that impressive yet, he is definitely going to get better. If he keeps fit, he could probably be the greatest English all rounder ever.  [Mt. 95, Runs 2,682, Ave. 40.63, SR. 93.94, Wkts. 70]

  7. MS Dhoni (wk) – If there’s one man who could have kept Adam Gilchrist out of this eleven it had to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni. As an Indian cricket fan, it was extremely tough to not consider him as the captain of the team, but at no point was his place as a player under threat. The only captain in the history of the game to have won all three major ICC events – 50 overs World Cup, T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy. Probably one of the finest finishers in the limited overs format in recent times and definitely a match winner. While his keeping is never the most athletic, nobody can doubt his lightning quick hands. Add to that his calm demeanor and he could become an ideal complement to Ricky Ponting. He is the deputy of my team. [Mt. 350, Runs 10,773, Ave. 50.57, SR. 87.56, Ct. 321, St. 123]

  8. Daniel Vettori – I don’t think this would be a popular choice among many experts. However, Daniel Vettori makes it to my eleven purely on class and guile. He was never a big spinner of the ball and any ordinary bowler will travel all over the park on today’s flat wickets. While Vettori did retire a good five years back, he managed to maintain a miserly economy rate of 4.12 over the course of a career which started back in 1997. He was excellent in mixing up his speed and had immaculate control over where he wanted the ball to land. He was also a handy lower order batsman although he achieved more success with the bat in test cricket. Vettori would give control of things during the middle overs and could also chip in with those crucial breakthroughs. [Mt. 295, Wkts. 305, Ave. 31.71, Eco. 4.12]

  9. Brett Lee – Tearaway quick who had a beautiful action, could be nasty at times and was a lethal death bowler. Off the field, he would be quite the opposite. The reason why I fell in love with Brett Lee was because of his action. He had a nice and easy wind up and would deliver a thunderbolt with ease. He would follow up a venomous delivery with the gentlest of smiles. Over a 12 year long career, he did make a few batsmen hop and jump while making others protect their fingernails from his reverse swinging toe crushers. He would be my first change bowler with the new ball pair coming up next.  [Mt. 221, Wkts. 380, Ave. 23.36, Eco. 4.76]

  10. 10.   Shane Bond – Another left field selection, but another match winning one. Shane Bond might not have had the body to live up to the rigors of international cricket, but he definitely prove his worth every time he put on the black caps jersey. He had a beautiful action and an in-ducker that would leave the best of batsmen rattled. A strike rate of under 21 over 82 matches is no mean feat and who knows what he would have achieved had his body given him some support. The fact that he did not want to compromise on pace to prolong his career showed what fast bowling meant to him. [Mt. 82, Wkts. 147, Ave. 20.88, Eco. 4.28]

  11. 11.   Glenn McGrath – As already mentioned in my test XI, McGrath was the best fast bowler I grew up watching. He might not have had the flair and venom of a Waqar Younis or a Wasim Akram, but he would get the job done more often than not. He retired at a time when the ODI game was preparing for a transition phase. He did manage to play a handful of T20 games including a few in the IPL and even with the pace going down, his impeccable consistency with his line and length continued to be his biggest strength till the time he bowled his last ball. With a fellow Aussie and a Kiwi to partner him, the fast bowling trio would be a rather uncomfortable proposition for the batsmen. [Mt. 250, Wkts. 381, Ave. 22.02, Eco. 3.88]