Virender Sehwag : Indian selectors may include him in the team for Australia only on second thoughts, weve no such doubts. Sehwag is first-choice opener. Sorry, Kris Srikkanth, Viru has an awesome record against the Aussies. Viru gets into the XI also because most others whove opened for India are back in the pavilion before you can say run.
Ravi Shastri (c): If there is anyone (besides Dada) who can match the Aussies in mind games and take the fight to the kangaroo camp, it must be Shastri. Or Shaz, as hes known in his telly avatar. He can open with Viru the leg-side chapati to the slash over point and turn his left arm over when needed, though dont expect too much turn. He is the best captain not to have led India consistently.
Rahul Dravid: Slow and steady, Jammy will play himself in, give the green top a careful read and leave the balls pitched outside the off-stump before going on to accumulate runs. With so many memorable innings against the Australians, no-nonsense Dravid is our number three.
Sachin Tendulkar: The one man the Aussies dont want to see coming down the steps at number four. Hes given Shane Warne nightmares dancing down the wicket and bang. McGrath isnt going to forget him in a hurry either. Though both the Aussie greats are now retired, wed go Down Under and back to watch them battle Tendlya again and again and again.
Mohammed Azharuddin: Though this stylish batter has been made to jump embarrassingly by the rising delivery, he makes it to the team because of his elegance and mastery over spin. And who can forget Azzus fielding the pounce, the pick-up and the pitch! The best fielder India has ever had?
Yuvraj Singh: Maybe, maybe not. Yuvi rivals his prowess in the field. Did you say how dare you pick Yuvi ahead of Dada? Sourav walks into any one-day team but his record in Tests against Australia isnt so hot (32.46). As Souravs protege, Yuvi is as aggressive in the field. And when he bats these days, theres only God whos better on the off or leg.
Kapil Dev: No discussion, let alone dispute. If India is to bid an early adieu to heavy-hitting Hayden, Kaps has to lead the bowling. He will swing and how! He can swing with the bat, too. A fighter to the core, he will inspire the boys not to give up till the last ball is bowled.
Anil Kumble: He is our frontline spin-doctor and trust him to frustrate the Aussies, not at all comfortable with spin, with his nagging line and length. His dogged determination with the bat makes him a hard nut to crack.
Harbhajan Singh: The turbanator is Pontings nightmare and we have simply lost count of the number of times he has got the man. And who doesnt know the Aussies have never been particularly fond of off-spin! He will beat the Aussies in flight, dumbfound them with the doosra. Not to forget the Bhangra on the boundary.
Javagal Srinath: Babu will be Kapils companion with the new ball, no question about that. As an opening bowler with pace and some deadly in-swingers in his weaponry, Sri has no rivals. He just has to be told not to let his shoulders droop when things arent going his way.
(Who would you replace in this Indian team and with whom?
Matthew Hayden: He strides into the middle, takes a long hard look at the field, lets a few balls hit his bat and, if he hangs around, may God help Shastri and his boys. This man doesnt know the word let-up.
David Boon: Hes short and hes chubby. And he can hit and he can hold an end up when trouble comes calling. Boony is also an accomplished fielder, his girth has never been a hindrance. Dont tangle with him, Boony has a menacing beer-bar swagger.
Ricky Ponting: He is cheeky and annoying. With a bat in hand, theres hardly a more entertaining or frightening sight than Ponting in full flow, cutting and pulling viciously. Often he seems to score at the same pace in a Test match as in a one-dayer. Punter is what his mates call him. More like a hunter to others.
Mark Waugh: Not a pleasant sight, eh, seeing Mark follow Ricky! The most elegant of batsmen the Aussies have produced in a long, long time, wed pay to watch him bat anywhere, anytime. If you thought fielding was boring, you havent seen Mark in the slips or anywhere else.
Allan Border: Theres never been a braver fighter, who led Australias resurgence to the top of the world. Without Border, thered have been no Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting sitting at the head of the Invincibles. Never much of a stylist, Border piled up runs almost unnoticed, going on to crack Gavaskars record.
Adam Gilchrist: It will be a feast of fury when Gilchrist joins Ricky or Mark or even Border at the crease. Its never mattered to Gilly if hes batting in a Test or a one-day match. A more than competent keeper, Gilly is as aggressive as they come but is a gentleman.
Shane Warne: Warney can make the ball do strange things on the field and off he can do stranger things to keep the hacks busy. Wish there were more like him in cricket. A star, if ever there was one. Better still, a flawed star.
Glenn McGrath: He is the king of accuracy, confounding the batsman by pitching ball after ball on and outside the off-stump. Thanks to him, the corridor of uncertainty has become as famous as the corridor of power.
Jason Gillespie: A tricky choice, we agree. This bowler with Christ-like looks comes into the team because of his pace and swing. He picks up from where Brett Lee leaves off. And we havent forgotten his century just yet!
(Who would you replace in this Australian team and with whom?