As part of Wisden’s 1990s in review, our panelists went about picking an India Test team of the 1990s and were forced to leave out some unlucky candidates from the final XI.
The bulk of the 1990s Test team was easy to choose; despite a few mini-debates, most of the players picked themselves to form the bulk of the side. However, a few spots divided opinion, and the following five players were all considered at one point, eventually losing out to other options, who made it to the final team.
All stats refer to the period between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1999
75 wickets @ 32.34, five-fors: 2, BBI: 5-97; 1002 runs @ 31.31, 100s: 2
Unarguably India’s greatest all-rounder, Kapil captained the team in 34 Tests until 1987, going on to play the format for seven more years. In the four years that he played in the Nineties, Kapil took the sixth-highest wickets for India in the decade, also edging past Richard Hadlee to break the all-time Test record. While his endurance was marvelled at, his bowling strike-rate shot up appreciably in the Nineties when compared to his overall career, and some opined that he prolonged his career to reach the elusive 432nd wicket.
That said, Kapil remained a stellar Test figure even in the twilight of this career, but did not make it to this team, with Manoj Prabhakar, four years his junior, managing better figures in both departments while also doubling up as an opener, and earning a place instead.
1,084 runs @ 54.20, 100s: 4, HS: 227
Not many batsmen had a better start to their Test career than Vinod Kambli, but the decline was just as dramatic as the rise. By his seventh Test, Kambli had hit four centuries – two of them double hundreds – and averaged an incredible 113.28. Ten matches later, a 23-year-old Kambli was dropped, never to be picked in the Test side again, his average still reading an impressive 54.20.
Some questioned his lifestyle, others his attitude, but it was primarily his dip in form, and the emergence of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, that hastened his exit. The numbers weren’t bad, but a small two-year window was just not good enough for Kambli to find a place in this XI, just as was the case with the one-day team.
1,259 runs @ 29.97, 100s: 1, HS: 104
A batsman in the classy mould, Manjrekar made an impressive entry into the Indian Test team, scoring a gutsy century against the great West Indian pace attack in the late Eighties, following up with a double century in Pakistan. However, with the turn of the decade, Manjrekar’s big scores dried up, struggling to muster defining knocks abroad. Between 1992 and 1996, Manjrekar didn’t hit a single century.
Again, it was the pair of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid that managed to edge out an established name, and Manjrekar’s promising start couldn’t materialise into a fulfilling career.