Indian Cricket

A Classical Team India T20 Playing 11 – The Greatest of All Time

Kapil Dev to lead as we find the classical Team India 11 that would have taken the T20/ IPL world by storm.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, all the live cricket matches have taken a stand-still. Hence, the majority of my quality time is spent revisiting the old classics. To be honest, the players from 70s, 80, and even 90s had some of the most ferocious hitters. The likes of Sir Viv Richards, Kapil Dev, Brian Lara, etc. were a nightmare for the bowlers back then. 

With that, a thought popped up in my mind. What if T20 as a concept had its inception back in the 70s? How would have players adapted to this format? How many players would have excelled in this format? Well, it would certainly made-up for an interesting discussion panel.

So, what if we look at 11 classic Indian players that would have taken the T20 world by storm? Well, that’s the objective of this article to introduce you to a classical team India 11 that would have had a successful career had T20/ IPL as a concept been introduced back then. 


Kris Srikkanth || Navjot Singh Sidhu

Kris Srikkanth and Navjot Singh Sidhu would make up for a handsome pair to have in T20s. While Kris Srikkanth was known for his explosive and aggressive nature of batting, Navjot Singh Sidhu was quite adaptable with the approach. 

In limited-overs cricket, both opened for Team India in the 80s and 90s, and played together from 1987-92. Kris Srikkanth and Navjot Sidhu would have been among the top players in the list of probable T20 openers. Surely, had IPL been staged in the 80s, they would have attracted a good amount. 


Mohammad Azharuddin || Vinod Kambli || Nayan Mongia (WK)

The artistic wood display combined with fabulous captaincy, Mohammad Azharuddin would have left no stone unturned in the 80s and 90s to replicate or even better what MS Dhoni did in T20 cricket. The former captain played numerous aggressive knocks including the then fastest ODI century off 62 balls- the record that stood for 21 years. 

Vinod Kambli’s career was short-lived due to controversies, but the talent of Kambli in the 90s was unmatched with most Critics rating him above Tendulkar. Nevertheless, with a tournament like IPL, Vinod Kambli would have got a solid platform to utilize his talent, and have a successful career.

Nayan Mongia was Team India’s star wicket-keeper in late 90s. Not only was he a pinch-hitter down the order, but his reflexes behind the wickets were truly remarkable. He was often known for playing valuable cameos down the order. With such attributes, Nayan Mongia would have easily become the team’s favourite wk choice back then. 


Kapil Dev (C) || Sandeep Patil  

If there’s one name that goes-in by default in all the playing 11s for T20s, it is Kapil Dev. One of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball, Kapil Dev’s skills are compared to the greatest the game has ever seen. On top that, his captaincy and imperial swing bowling would have made him the most valuable player of T20s in the 70s and 80s.

Sandeep Patil’s finishing skills could have added a lot of value to any T20 team. While he may not have played much for Team India, and instead glamorised himself with Bollywood, he played with aggression and style, and even had a strike rate of 82, which was gold at that time. Moreover, Patil was also a valuable medium-pacer- an asset for any team to have.     


BS Chandrashekhar || Erapalli Prasanna 

Looking at the spinners from the pre-Kumble era, it is the famous spin quartet of India comprising of BS Chandrashekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan that has dominated the cricket field with some amazing spin bowling. To be honest, selecting only two spinners from these legends is a tough task, and demeaning to the quality of the ones that are left out.

Anyway, given the success the leggies have seen in the T20 format, BS Chandrashekhar becomes an automatic choice. The leggie was a rare jewel with umpteenth variations under his sleeves- much like Rashid Khan of the current era. More than the leggies, he used to bowl googlies, top-spinners, drifters which would have helped him have a successful T20 career. 

Among the remaining three, Bishan Singh Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna were more potent that Srinivas Venkataraghavan with stats backing these two. Bishan Singh Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna are two brilliant bowlers to have in any squad if a Test match is considered- similar to Ash and Jaddu of the present era. However, Erapalli Prasanna used to play mind games with the batsmen- much like the game of Chess. He had a brilliant flight to allure the batsmen, and a few tricks that would make him a complete spin package in T20s.


Roger Binny || Javagal Srinath

While Kapil Dev would any day lead any pace attack, the importance of 90s superstar, Javagal Srinath can’t be forgotten. Srinath was the leader of the pace attack back then, and apart from being a brilliant in-swing bowler, Srinath had Wiley off-cutters and late movement that would have been a major threat in T20s. Of course with experience, he would have added more variations under his belt.

Among many other brilliant bowlers like Chetan Sharma, Venkatesh Prasad, Ajit Agarkar, Manoj Prabhakar, etc., Roger Binny stands-out with brilliant control over swing bowling. He could swing the ball both ways, and would ideally be termed as a wicket-taker. With bowlers at the centre stage back then, Binny would have been a perfect weapon for any team to have.

So, that completes our classical Team India playing 11 that would have created havoc had T20/ IPL being introduced in their era.      

A Classical Team India 11 that would have excelled in T20s/ IPL:

K Srikkanth, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Mohammad Azharuddin, Vinod Kambli, Kapil Dev (C), Nayan Mongia (WK), Sandeep Patil, Roger Binny, Javagal Srinath, BS Chandrashekhar, and Erapalli Prasanna.

Additional Quality T20 contenders: Ravi Shastri, Bishan Singh Bedi, Robin Singh, Ajay Jadeja, Mohinder Amarnath, Farokh Engineer, and Dilip Vengsarkar.

Thanks for reading! Do you think we got the playing 11 right, or do you foresee any replacements? Please, let us know in the comments. 

ALSO READ: Comparing the Strongest T20 XI’s from different regions of India

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