I read Cricinfo’s article on the best line up to try and beat India in India and I decided to have a go. SPOILER: Unlike any of the Cricinfo experts – I have not included Dimuth Karunaratne because he averages 15.17 in India vs India…
1. Sir Alastair Cook
Yes, Sir Alastair Cook is retired from international cricket but I would definitely be looking to pick up the phone and call him up for this one and it’s for the reason that the former England captain has scored 4 out of the 9 centuries scored by openers against India in India since 2010.
931 runs in 18 innings gives Cook an average of 54.76 in India since 2010 and there is no reason to think he couldn’t reproduce here.
2. Azhar Ali
I could have easily jumped on the Dean Elgar band wagon after he scored an outstanding 160 in Visakhapatnam in the first test between South Africa and India a couple of weeks ago but the fact he didn’t pass 50 again in the series has hurt him in comparison to Azhar Ali.
Azhar averages 53.98 in the UAE for Pakistan so if he can transform this into a run of form in India, we will have a really strong base at the top of the order. His top score of 302* gives me confidence that he will find big runs against a quality India attack.
To be fair, if Keaton Jennings had batted more than 4 times in India – I may well have selected him given that both his test centuries have come in the sub-continent.
3. Joe Root
Since he debuted in India in 2012, half of Root’s innings in India have seen him score in excess of 50 – although, classic Root has seen him only convert 1 of those 6 innings into a hundred.
Root has scored 584 runs in India during his two visits and I would be confident he could do a similar job for me as I try to beat India on their own patch.
4. Steve Smith
I could have batted Smith at 3 but I have just witnessed Smith decimate England from number 4 so I am hoping he can do the same to Virat Kohli’s men from a similar position.
Smith has a high score of 178* in India and his ability to amass big scores all over the world puts this side in a really good position for the series. He also has 3 hundreds in India, bettered only by Sir Alastair Cook.
5. Darren Bravo
This is such an outrageous pick and I can only see it coming off in fantasy land, but Bravo makes the side due to his average of 50.40 in India and his average of 51.73 in away tests for the West Indies.
Bravo has been dropped for the one-off test vs Afghanistan following a disappointing home series against India which ended with a concussion injury but prior to that, the signing of an all format deal for the West Indies may mean the best of the Trinidadian batsman is too come which may include shades of his 166 in Mumbai in 2011.
6. Moeen Ali
I am getting really nervous at the amount of left handers I am picking in this side but I would like to pick a spinning allrounder and I am hoping to convince Moeen to play this one off red ball tour in India.
In my side, Moeen is coming in as a genuine number 6 – he has 381 runs across 9 innings, averaging 42.33 in the process. In that time he has scored two hundreds with a best of 146.
His bowling stats reek of part-time off-spin but in this team, he is going to be a third spinner. He has taken 10 wickets at 64.90 and strikes every 112.9 deliveries.
7. Mushfiqur Rahim
If I can convince Mushfiqur not to give up the keeping gloves just yet, then I think he can make my side to take on India.
His 127 vs India in Hyderabad came in a losing cause but his keeping in sub-continent conditions also adds value to the side. I also felt alongside this, his performances on away tours in the sub-continent also holds him in good stead. In these 9 innings across India and Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur averages 65.56 with the bat.
Obviously, Safaraz Ahmed deserves a mention due to his performances in the UAE (1178 runs @ 42.07) but Mushfiqur’s away form in the sub-continent gets him the gig.
8. Simon Harmer
You are going to find that I have no variety to my spin attack and it’ll probably really confuse you but I think Harmer would be a great pick if I was looking to take on India in India.
Fresh off the back of a successful County Championship in which he took 83 wickets across the season, I think it is obvious to say that Harmer is a world class spinner in any conditions.
His last test actually came in Naigpur in 2015 but in his 5 test match career, he took 20 wickets at an average of 29.40. 2 of these Test Matches came in India where he took half of his test wickets (10) at an average of 25.40. Whilst this was in a losing cause, you can’t help but feel South Africa’s batting in India was the demise of them on this occasion.
9. James Pattinson
I wanted a bit of pace and I thought that Pattinson could be my man, If the Australian quick can stay fit – he has proven he came make a difference in India with the red ball.
On Australia’s infamous homework gate tour of India in 2013, Pattinson was punished by Cricket Australia however he did return a return of 9 wickets in 5 innings at an average of 27.77 which shows the ability to take wickets despite the unfriendly conditions for the seamer. Let’s hope that six years on he can repeat the feat and take down India on home soil.
10. Mohammad Abbas
I honestly felt a seamer who averages 17.56 with the ball in the UAE was too good to leave out of a side trying to beat India on home soil.
Yes, this is across 6 matches but there are players in this team on smaller sample sizes and I feel the control of Abbas would match Pattinson’s pace really well.
Abbas has 27 wickets in the UAE, taking 2 5fers and a 10fer in the process.
11. Yasir Shah
It was between Yasir Shah, Nathan Lyon and Imran Tahir for the last spot but I thought against Lyon because I already have two off-spinners and I was against Tahir because I already cheated by getting Sir Cook back in so I didn’t want to get another retired test star in the line up (Harmer doesn’t count…).
Although he has never toured India, the Pakistani leg spinner has 116 wickets in the UAE and takes them at an average of 24.56 – he could really be the match winner on this tour.