Rohit, Virat, Rahul, Pant, Jadeja, and Bumrah, the stand-outs as we look at the current best playing 11 for Team India across all formats.
Ever since the pandemic hit the world in December 2019, the dynamics of the sporting environment have changed completely. Deviating from the standard format of 15, almost all teams are now forced to carry a team of 20-25 or even more players in all their tours.
There are also occasions like the recent one where Team India fielded two different teams for two different tours. All these have only exposed the bench strength, and the teams that were better prepared are now able to perform well even with B team players.
Team India are at the forefront when it comes to solid bench strength. Only recently in 2020 in Australia when Team India were without most of the senior players, an almost B team led by secondary captain, Ajinkya Rahane defeated Australia on their home turf to register the greatest series victory of the 21st century.
So, as we stand today, with a pool of almost 40 players, how does the best playing 11 look like for Team India in all the formats? Let’s have a look at it. Before that, let’s quickly skim through the criteria to select the best possible playing 11 for Team India.
Well, given the recent dynamics of how many players have played for Team India, for International selection like Test, ODI, and T20Is, capability and selection preference is given importance. Hence, it is somewhat driven by personal choice. Whereas for IPL, stats from 2018 have been taken into consideration to remove any biases or perceptions.
Test Match Current Best Playing 11:
Team India have a well-oiled Test squad, and mostly 8-9 members select for themselves. The other 2-3 are being selected depending on the conditions. The players who are a sure shot selection irrespective of the conditions are Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, and Jasprit Bumrah.
To Partner Rohit Sharma at the top, it was tough to decide between Shubman Gill and KL Rahul. But given KL Rahul’s heroic performance in the 1st Test vs England, it is safe to assume that even if Gill was available for the second Test, KL Rahul would have been preferred. But that takes nothing away from how good Gill has been.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who is the leading spinner of the squad is still a healthy option for number 8 followed by 3 pacers. Ishant Sharma is the leading name for the third pacer, but if India play in spin-friendly conditions then Axar Patel is the go-to man. But talking about the best playing 11, 3 pacers and 2 spin-bowling all-rounders looks perfect.
Team India’s Current Best Playing 11 in Tests:
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma & Jasprit Bumrah.
Additional 4 Reserves: Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj & Axar Patel / Umesh Yadav
One Day International Current Best Playing 11:
This is the format that has not seen a consistent playing 11 since the 2019 World Cup. A lot of players have made debut for Team India, and have also performed well. The players who select for themselves include Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Team India’s top 3 comprising of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli have been the best top 3 in the entire world in the last 5-6 years. The number 4 has seen Shreyas Iyer making a mark at that position, but with Rishabh Pant almost a sure shot to play at number 5 as a keeper-batsman, the number 4 would be a toss-up between Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul.
Both have performed really well in the last couple of years for Team India, but if only 1 is going to make it then it will be KL Rahul. The Karnataka-born KL Rahul has transformed himself from being an opener to being a good middle-order batsman in the recent tours. Even Team Management sees KL Rahul as a middle-order batsman.
The all-rounders are fixed in the form of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. Yuzvendra Chahal shall be the leading spinner and Jasprit Bumrah shall be the leading pacer for Team India. The other two spots can be filled by 2 Pacers or 1 spinner and 1 pacer. But looking at the other spinners’ performance, Bhuvi and Shami look the best bet.
Team India’s Current Best Playing 11 in ODIs:
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah & Yuzvendra Chahal.
Additional 4 Reserves: Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav & Shardul Thakur.
T20 International Current Best Playing 11:
Compared to ODI, Shikhar Dhawan misses out from the T20I hasn’t had the best outing in T20Is. Hence, KL Rahul, who is more apt to open fills his place. In Dhawan’s place, Team India’s hottest property at the moment, Suryakumar Yadav shall be the best fit. He is also a crowd favorite looking at this aggressive nature and recent performance for Team India.
In the bowling department, Mohammed Shami misses out. Shami hasn’t played a lot of T20Is, and Washington Sundar, who has been a regular feature seems a good fit. This will also give Team India a mix of 3 pacers and 3 spinners in the squad. The bowling backup is good too with Rahul Chahar and Mohammed Shami in the mix.
Team India’s Current Best Playing 11 in T20Is:
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah & Yuzvendra Chahal.
Additional 4 Reserves: Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Mohammed Shami & Rahul Chahar.
IPL Current Best Playing 11:
Probably the most difficult one to choose from. Given how players have performed in the last three years, the team sees a few exceptions. To start with, 7 players pick for themselves. The list includes Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, and Yuzvendra Chahal. They have been the best performers since 2018, and deserve a selection without any debate.
This leaves us with 2 batting and 2 bowling spots. Talking about batting, we have 5 options in the form of Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, and Rohit Sharma. But of all 5, Virat Kohli has been a better batsman, hence he gets a nod for the middle-order position.
From the other four, Suryakumar Yadav has been the best batsman, followed by Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, and Rohit Sharma. However, the batting rating for all these four is very similar. Hence, Rohit Sharma, who also adds a lot of value as a captain gets the nod.
Coming to the bowling, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal select for themselves. For the remaining two, we have 3 options in the form of Mohammed Shami, Deepak Chahar, and Rahul Chahar. Shami has been a wicket-taker in IPL, and has better stats than the other two. Between Rahul Chahar and Deepak Chahar, conditions would play a selection role. But the basis on performance, Rahul Chahar deserves a place in the playing 11.
Team India’s Current Best Playing 11 in IPL:
Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah & Yuzvendra Chahal.
Additional 4 Reserves: Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Chahar & Shardul Thakur
So, that’s how the best playing 11 for Team India across all formats looks like. You may see a few changes depending on the conditions, but more or less, these are the best we have got as of today.
Thanks for reading! Which format best playing 11 looks the strongest for Team India? Please email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adesh Kothari is the founder of AK4Tsay1 Cricalytics.
Cricket to him is like what ‘Football is to Lionel Messi’, ‘Singing is to Lata Mangeshkar’, ‘Dancing is to Michael Jackson’, and what ‘Acting is to Clint Eastwood’.
Besides his effervescent love for Cricket, Adesh is an MBA by qualification.