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India v Australia 2022/23

A rest of the world XI who could take on India in their own backyard

Ben Stokes, Devon Conway, Litton Das
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

India’s record in home Tests in the recent past is astonishing.

In the past decade, they have lost just two Tests – let alone series – on home soil. The first Test of their series against Australia at Nagpur was a reminder of their unprecedented home dominance, dismantling the No.1 ranked side in the world in an innings victory.

That opening Test victory begs the question: if the top-ranked side in the world can’t put up much of a fight against India in India, who can?


Here, we pick an XI comprised of players outside India best placed to challenge India in their own backyard.

Tom Latham

The New Zealander has been one of the most consistent openers in the world game for some time now. Latham averages over 40 in Test cricket and has five fifties from as many Tests against India in India. He just pips Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne to a spot in the XI; despite an excellent overall record in Asia, Karunaratne averages 25.70 from five Tests in India.

Devon Conway

Latham is joined up top by his compatriot Devon Conway. Although still in the nascent phase of his Test career, Conway has risen to every challenge that’s come his way. He was outstanding during New Zealand’s recent tour of Pakistan and while Indian pitches conjure an altogether different challenge, the extent of Conway’s success in Test cricket so far bodes well for any future tours of India.

Babar Azam

The Pakistan captain is a run-scoring machine in Asia. All but one of his nine Test centuries have been scored on the continent; it is a great shame that the one of the game’s modern greats may never get the chance to test himself in India for reasons totally out of his control.

Steve Smith

Speaking of modern greats, Steve Smith is a shoo-in for this team. Smith’s average in India (60.16) is practically identical to his overall career record (60.90). His century at Pune in 2017 is perhaps the finest of his Test career.

Joe Root

Like Smith, Root’s returns do not diminish in India – the former England captain’s numbers in India are also close to identical to his overall career statistics. Root is a superb player of spin and has excelled on tracks that have turned considerably, most notably during England’s pair of series wins in Sri Lanka in 2018 and 2021. Root’s 218 at Chennai in 2021 may well be his magnum opus. Kane Williamson misses out on a spot in the middle order having gone without a century in India since his debut Test 13 years ago.

Ben Stokes

As ever with Stokes, his raw numbers do not accurately paint a picture of his utility. His record in India does not leap off the page, averaging 32.23 with the bat and 39.23 with the ball. He is needed primarily for his creative captaincy that has reaped rewards in the early stages of his time as England skipper, and also his all-round ability that lends flexibility to the team. When England next tour in India you can bet that he’ll ‘improve’ on his current strike-rate in India which stands at 47.94.

Litton Das

The first of two Bangladeshis in the XI. Das is one of the most improved players in the world, averaging over 40 while keeping wicket. Das was the leading run-scorer among wicketkeepers in Tests last year and just beats Mohammad Rizwan – who recently lost his Pakistan Test spot to Sarfaraz Ahmed – to a place in the XI.

Shakib Al Hasan

Shakib hasn’t batted at eight in Test cricket for 15 years but he’ll have to make do there in this XI. His batting returns in the Test game have been far from spectacular for some time – his most recent Test century came all the way back in 2017. However, Shakib’s primary role in this team is as a bowler. Shakib has claimed 19 five-wicket hauls across his 65-game Test career, the same tally as Stuart Broad has from 94 more matches.

Rashid Khan

Rashid has played just five Tests thus far in his career but he has already shown that he is capable of replicating his remarkable white-ball record in the Test arena. Those five Test appearances have already yielded four five-fors and two ten-wicket match hauls, and given India’s right-hander heavy top order – and Rashid’s potent googly – this side can afford to have two spinners who primarily turn the ball away from right-handers. Nathan Lyon is the Test spinner with the most pedigree outside India but his record in India over three tours is no better than decent.

Shaheen Afridi

There are more complete fast bowlers in Test cricket but incision with the new ball is as vital in India as anywhere in the world. There are few, if any, bowlers in the world as lethal with the new ball as Shaheen – he will be crucial in removing Rohit Sharma, India’s most important batter at the moment.

James Anderson

Here’s a stat for you. In the last decade, Anderson averages just 0.2 runs per wicket more in Asia than in England. On England’s most recent tour of India, Anderson averaged 15.87 with an economy of less than two runs per over. At Chennai, on a good batting wicket, Anderson ripped a hole in the India top order, spectacularly claiming the wickets of Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in the same over in a superb display of control of the reverse-swinging ball. No seamer is nearly as skilful as Anderson in Indian conditions.

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