The Wisden India team, comprising editor-at-large Karunya Keshav, editor Manoj Narayan, and staff writers Akshay Gopalakrishnan and Aadya Sharma, gathered – virtually, of course – to come up with a Test and ODI XI for India as part of Wisden’s 2000s in Review series.
Having somehow reached a compromise on the openers – it was decided Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly would open, with Virender Sehwag pushed down to No.3 – the panel encountered another problem: what’s the best position for Rahul Dravid?
Dravid, being India’s utility man, has batted everywhere for India, apart from taking the gloves when the need arises. However, his best position, is at No.3. When you have a legend such as that in your team, you put them where they’re best at – it’s simple. However, given India in the 2000s was full of players of a similar stature, this was more than tricky.
Here’s why the panel decided to slot Dravid in at No.4.
MN: Okay, then. So we have decided on this so far: Sachin, Ganguly, Sehwag, Dravid, Yuvraj, Raina, Dhoni.
AG: Dravid at 3, sorry. Look, Sachin and Ganguly are destructive, Dravid is needed at 3 to stabilise before the rest can finish off.
AS: I won’t worry about Dravid coming in at 4. It’s the 2000s, it’s a good spot. He’s got Yuvraj and Dhoni to come after him.
MN: Look at the figures – Dravid was the best batsman for India at No.4 in the 2000s.
AG: But what if top three bat 40 overs? I’d rather not have Dravid come in at all. He can’t come and go bang, bang in the last 10. It’s either Dravid at 3, or no Dravid at all for me.
Sachin and Sehwag, with Ganguly excluded? Push Sachin down the order? Can Gambhir get a look-in?
Picking the openers in Wisden’s India ODI team of the 2000s was one hell of a puzzle.https://t.co/v2GXJq7HUR
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) May 28, 2020
MN: And what if they don’t? You want Dravid to come in at 4 and stabilse, paving the way for Yuvraj, Dhoni thereafter. Also, if that top three do bat 40 overs, you probably don’t need to go bang, bang.
AS: Yeah, that might not happen as often as we think. For all the other scenarios, I think Dravid fits in well. We’re considering ODIs of the 2000s, when 275 was a challenging score!
AG: Ganguly and Tendulkar are high-risk because of their scoring rate, as is Sehwag. I’d rather be 2-1, and have Dravid stabilise the innings, than be 2-2 and have Dravid do the same thing. He’s capable, yes, but I don’t know, you need one person who stays at the crease and builds the innings. Dravid has to be the guy that bats the bulk of the overs. The rest can come in, do their job and go.
AG: Ok, you know what, Dravid at 4 is fine. Sehwag seems odd at 3, but we can always find problems! This is an overwhelming team to put together.