Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Five Indians in Wisden's Dream Test XI

Wisden, the highly respected cricket publication, today named Virender Sehwag as the Leading Cricketer in the World for 2008 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni captain of its first ever Dream Test XI which has five Indians in the ranks.India's rich vein of form found ample reflection in Wisden's first ever Dream XI which include Sehwag, Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.India has the largest representation in the Test squad, followed by Australia (Ricky Ponting and Mitchell Johnson) and South Africa (Graeme Smith and Dale Steyn) who have two each.Flamboyant batsman Kevin Pietersen is the lone English player in the XI, while the West Indies is represented by run-machine Shivnarine Chanderpaul.Smith is Dhoni's deputy in the side.The three selectors who picked the squad were former India captain Ravi Shastri, retired West Indian pacer Ian Bishop and former New Zealand stumper Ian Smith."The criteria for selection are simple: the best eleven to play a Test match, no matter the opposition, guided by performances in 2008, and taking into consideration the amount of Test cricket they played in the year, the quality of their opponents, and that indefinable blend of class and form," Wisden said.It turned out to be a double delight for Sehwag who became the sixth player to be adjudged the Leading Cricketer in the World, an award instituted in 2004.The five previous winners have been Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Andrew Flintoff, Muttiah Muralitharan and Jacques Kallis.

"Virender Sehwag had to beat off the strongest of challenges by Graeme Smith to become the Leading Cricketer in the World for 2008. Sehwag did so by taking the task of opening Test innings to a new level," Wisden observed."He sought, and often achieved, mental domination from the first ball by scoring faster than any other opening batsman has ever done on a regular basis in Test cricket," it said.In the Test XI, Gautam Gambhir's name was also considered to be Sehwag's opening partner before the selectors opted for Smith.Australian captain Ricky Ponting got the votes of both Shastri and Smith for the number three slot even though Bishop preferred South African Hashim Amla.Besides batting at number three, Ponting would field at second slip, beside Smith at first, it said.Tendulkar got the backing of Shastri and Smith to be the number four batsman even though Bishop rooted for South African AB de Villiers.Pietersen was the unanimous choice at number five even though Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene was also a strong contender for the slot.There was no difference in opinion about Chanderpaul at number six and Dhoni as the stumper-cum-number seven bat.

Bishop and Shastri's votes made Dhoni captain of the side even though Ian Smith preferred Graeme Smith.Originally Smith's choice, Harbhajan needed the convenor's casting vote to win a three-way tie which also included Bishop's pick Ajantha Mendis and Shastri's support for another Sri Lankan, Muttiah Muralitharan.Mitchell Johnson made the cut despite Shastri rooting for another Australian Brett Lee but there was no such dilemma with Steyn's selection.Like Harbhajan, Zaheer emerged winner after a three-way tie as Smith wanted Englishman Ryan Sidebottom while Bishop preferred Ishant Sharma.

The Wisden Test XI of 2008:

Virender Sehwag (India), Graeme Smith (South Africa), Ricky Ponting (Australia), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Kevin Pietersen (England), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies), Mahendra Sing Dhoni (India), Harbhajan Singh (India), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Dale Steyn (South Africa) and Zaheer Khan (India).

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