Okay. We have failed to reach the T20 WC knockout round for third time in a row. And that is after were playing in our own backyard. Well considering the number of matches we play in Sri Lanka, it is as good as our own backyard. Different people have found different reasons for our failure – MSD’s baffling captaincy, rising petrol prices putting unwanted performance pressure on Rohit Sharma, absence of India’s lucky mascot Joginder Sharma, Rain, Australia’s conspiracy against India (their competitor in iron ore business) to kill the India Shinning story hence the competition in commodity business and/or may be Poonam Pandey’s reluctance on not making a promise which she made in the months of February-March 2011. There have been questions about the captain, the individuals in the team and the team itself – was it good enough or if our selectors are good enough to pick a team. Hence I decided to pick my team and announce it as my dream team for T20 matches.
1. Imran Nazir –With time, cricket is getting shorter and shorter. Hence the time a batsman gets or should take to occupy the crease is reducing at a rapid pace. Imran Nazir has adapted to this need wonderfully well. If in test matches, yes he HAS played 8 tests, his average innings lasted 60 balls, in ODIs it lasted half of it -30 balls. Bring on the shortest format T20 and his average innings lasts half of ODIs – 15 balls. On an average he scores 20 runs in these 15 balls. Now imagine if cricket was a five over game. Imran Nazir would have been its Bradman and Bradman would have been AK Hangal. People often blame of being too impatient but I say he was born ahead of his time. 20-30 years down the line when 5Five replaces this T20 fiasco, Imran Nazir will be too old and may well be writing a book – Dummies for lasting 5 overs. People often claim he lacks patience but 20-30 years from now, he may well be thinking then wish my parents were a bit more patient.
Reason for selection – His hitting abilities. As SMG said during marketing campaign of T20 WC 2007 – T20 is about hit out or get out. All we need to explain Nazir that focus should be more on former than later.
2. Mark Richardson – “Oh, his technique is all over the place. How the hell he is going to play on these seaming pitches” commented Mark when he saw Sehwag bat in a test match in New Zealand. Martin Crowe replied back “Don’t worry Mark. He scores run a ball in tests. That’s how much you used to score in a session – one run”. Mark took it in his stride but on a serious note, it was an insult to a warrior. Mark’s biggest strength was his courage. That’s why when entire world was going gaga over how India was a bit too strong for New Zealand for 2009-10 series in New Zealand, Mark unearthed a secret casting couch going around in the cricketing world. Well that’s what you need in T20 cricket, right – the fearless cricketers, isn’t it?
Reason for selection – Where will you get such a fearless cricketer?
3. Sanjay Manjrekar – T20 is just slam bang cricket. All you need is a heavy bat so that when a batsman hits the ball to the next city, the commentators can say with those orgasmic feelings “These heavy bats”. But this isn’t valid always. If it was, Pollard would have scored a triple hundred in T20s. If it was, Rahul Dravid would have been less successful than Tejashwi Yadav in IPL. You do need technique to survive 20 overs. Yes you do. That’s why Sanjay Manjrekar, the “Oh these heavy bats” man, is a pick for my dream team. Make no mistake. The man was a technician. On that dark night of March the 13th 1996, only man to have lasted for some amount of time on that minefield in Eden Gardens apart from the God himself was Sanjay Manjrekar. People often claim that Sanjay Manjrekar would have become a much more successful batsman had he not become slave of his own technique. I disagree. Only thing Sanjay missed in his entire career were heavy bats. If he had the kind of bats used by the batsmen of modern era, all those blocks back to the bowler would have ended in the neighboring cities. The regret of not getting a chance to use heavy bats is visible in his commentary – every time a batsman hits a six, Sanjay’s words are “Oh, these heavy bats”.
Once a female broadcaster asked Sanjay about the secret behind Gayle’s power hitting. Sanjay replied “Oh, these heavy bats”. I could hear the female broadcaster murmuring “Wish you had one”.
Reason for selection – I want to see him batting with a heavy bat.
4. Robert Key – The very first time I saw Robert Key, I thought it was Mike Gatting making a comeback. It was only after I took my eyes off Key’s bulging tummy I realized that Gatting was shorter in height as compared to Key and also kept a beard. It was not Key’s fault that he belonged to that era of English cricket when anyone who could score a few runs with a cricket bat was termed next Bradman, anyone who could get a wicket with a cricket ball was termed next Truman and anyone who could do both was termed as next Botham. With marked for being the next big thing right from the start of his career, Key’s giant shoulders between his cherry cheeks and ever so ballooning tummy couldn't hold the pressure. One of the reasons for his lack of success at international level was his tummy – bowlers bowled at 90 miles per hour and Key’s bat often got stuck in his tummy. If not for this reason, with the bat speed he had, Key would have been a stupendous success in T20.
Reason for selection – His mere presence at the crease will send the bowlers into a tizzy. And we surely need someone in the team who can throw his weight around.
5. Aakash Chopra – Aakash Chopra was extremely unlucky as a test cricketer. Since his opening partner was Sehwag, he was given the role of holding one end up and to keep reminding Sehwag – There is no hurry to finish off spinner’s career in an over. You can take one full innings to do that. The moment India got a more flamboyant player, he was dropped. Aakash Chopra’s main job was to take the shine off the new cherry. He didn't start scoring unless the ball became old. That is the reason I am picking him as a middle order batsman so that he gets an old ball to start off his innings. Once the pressure to take the shine off the new ball isn't there on his shoulders, he can apply all his theories to score runs – his theories are all flooded over one of the most popular cricket websites. Maybe he can write a white paper on scoring quick runs and then do so.
Reason for selection – Only reason he didn't score quick runs just because he was given a task to take the shine off the new ball. By sending him in at number five, we take away the hurdle. I am sure he will rise and shine.
6. Jimmy Adams – During West Indies’ 1994-95 tour to India, Jimmy Adams almost bored me to death. One of the most unorthodox batsmen, and boring too, Jimmy was surely a jack of all trades. He could bat with his pads. He could bowl left arm spin. But he is in this team as a wicketkeeper Yes. He was Dilshan of 90s. Albeit lot more docile Dilshan. He is also in the side as a vice captain. One may argue his selection as he was seen as a painfully slow batsman. But ladies (in case any lady happen to read this) and gentlemen, we need to have someone who can hold the innings together. We need someone who can ensure that this team bats its full quota of overs. Imagine if all the gentlemen mentioned above get out in 20 overs, I know the possibility is less than Imran NAzir lasting for more than five overs but still, who will rescue the team. He will be the last line of defense for the team. You may argue that this team has nothing but defense but I would prefer choosing gold of silence over silver of speech.
Reason for selection – He can bat, bowl, keep wickets and lead the side. What else do you want?
7. Ravi Shastri – No matter how good a team is, it’s a waste without an X factor. The Zing. The star. And who better to choose then our very own, the tracer bullet, the news-from-the-center, the there-is-a-buzz-among-the-crowd, the atmosphere-is-electric, the wrapped-on-the-pads-and-up-goes-the-finger, the champion of the champions Ravi Jayadritha Shastri. Ravi or TB (tracer bullet) as we fondly call him; was an amazing all-rounder. He could come half way down the track with a bat speed of 500 miles per hour and yet block a ball dead. His left arm spin was almost a deadly as his charm. And need I talk about his fielding. But he is in his team for some other reasons as well. Being a Casanova for life, he will ensure that even if the world turns against his team, at least cheerleaders will be a constant support. He is in the side for all those pre-match, post-match press conferences and presentations. Imagine him answering about why his team lost the match– “Oh the atmosphere is electric. There is a buzz among the crowd. The news from the center is that we have lost but we flashed and flashed hard. I was wrapped on the pads and up went the finger. But that is a conspiracy against me because I cover IPL. It’s nothing but jealousy. You all are jealous, bloody jealous”
Reason for selection – The X factor associated with him is so big that it can be called the XXX factor.
8. Piyush Chawala – The dimple cheek, chubby, charming googly bowler. With him in the team, we get the experience of winning world cups. He is the only Indian alive who has won two cricket world cups without even needing to take out a single weapon from his armory. Chawala follows the principle of MIMO – with minimum inputs to team’s performance in these victories, Chawla has managed to eke out maximum result by being part of these squads when people like Dravid, Ganguly, Lara, Donald could only dream of this. Only reason for India to pick him in T20 WC of 2012 was, even though he has had horrendous outings in domestic cricket, to let him share his experience of being in two world cup winning sides and inspire his team members. There were others with same credentials but none of them had mastery in the art of MIMO. None of them had the quality Chawla is blessed with – charm.
Reason for selection – I am trying to figure that out.
9. Joginder Sharma – On 18th April 1986, Chetan Sharma bowled the most notorious full toss of human history. Javed Miandad hit that for six and started a gloomy chapter for India in Indo-Pak rivalry on the cricket ground. After that match, India found it almost impossible to win against Pakistan for well over a decade. Chetan Sharma, for the generations to come, became the man who gave six runs on THAT last ball. Fast forward 21 years. On 24th September 2007, with Pakistan needing six to win, Joginder Sharma bowled a slow ball to Misbah-ul-haq. Misbah took a power nap, washed his face, called up at the airport to find out if his flight back home was on time or not and when Joginder’s slow ball finally arrived, he played a scoop. Sreesanth took the catch and Indian won the T20 WC. Lot changed after that victory in Indian cricket. Joginder Sharma will always be known as the man who won us the T20 world cup. Irony of life is that while Chetan Sharma played more than half of total ODIs he played in his entire career after bowling THAT ball, Joginder Sharma is yet play in a T20 match for India after bowling THAT ball. However, this poor man’s Kapil Dev automatically selects himself in the side. While batting, he looks like a beast looking for preys. While bowling, he looks like a prey trying to save his life from a beast. He provides complete balance. If you want to read more about him, here is my tribute to Jogi.
Reason for selection – What if the match goes till the last over. You know the drill, right?
10. Ajit Agarkar – The name is enough. And by the way, it’s Sir Ajit Agarkar.
Reason for selection – Do you really need a reason?
11. Fazl-e-Akbar – Many of you may not remember him but I do. No disrespect but he was the first sign of what-to-expect in an India-Pak encounter after 2004. With hero of last match, Umar Gul, being injured, Shoaib Akhtar telling his captain that he was too injured to bowl, Sami not being the main fast bowler in Rawalpindi-2004 , Fazl-e-Akbar was leading the Pak attack. Indian batsmen couldn’t have asked for more after getting to face Fazl-e-Akbar who looked more like being at a 9 to 5 job while bowling. But he did get evergreen child prodigy Parthiv Patel out.
Reason for selection – Well, I had to pick someone.
With such a dream team, I am sure nightmares won’t be far away – hopefully for the opponents.
PS: All for humor. Pun intended.