India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has picked his yesteryears teammates Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in his all-time best Test XI. As told to ESPNcricinfo’s online magazine ‘The Cricket Monthly’, Harbhajan picked 11 red-ball players from the ones he has played with or against during his international playing career.
Australian legend Ricky Ponting was picked as the captain of this team by Harbhajan “because he was a leader” according to the latter. While Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara has been chosen for the wicketkeeper’s role, Shaun Pollock, Wasim Akram, and Glenn McGrath complete the pace triad of Harbhajan’s team. Shane Warne is the lone specialist spinner picked by Harbhajan in his all-star team.
Speaking on his choice of Sehwag as an opener to partner Australian Matthew Hayden, Harbhajan told TCM: “He was someone you could compare with Viv Richards. He wasn’t afraid to take anyone on, and he would score at a pace where he would set the match up for the bowlers. I played a lot of cricket with and against him from the Under-19 days when he was a middle-order player, and maybe that’s why he was really good against spin, using his feet, sweeping, reverse-sweeping. He was very hard to bowl to. He could rip you apart. If you didn’t get him out early, you would be in for a long day.”
On Tendulkar, Harbhajan’s argument was: “Sachin was obviously Sachin. The most correct batsman I’ve ever bowled to. I played for Rest of India v Mumbai in the Irani Trophy a couple of times and he always got runs. To get him out was always a difficult task, like a puzzle. You have to bowl double the number of good balls that you would bowl to a normal batsman to get him out.”
Harbhajan also described Dravid as “the most dependable batsman that I’ve ever played against or bowled to.” Incidentally, Jacques Kallis was the only specialist all-rounder picked by Harbhajan in his Test XI.
Harbhajan Singh’s Test XI: Virender Sehwag, Matthew Hayden, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting (C), Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Shaun Pollock, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath
In addition to the Test XI, Harbhajan also picked a T20 team with 4 Indians (Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah) in the side.
Harbhajan Singh’s T20 XII: David Warner, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Ben Stokes, Andre Russell, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine