Dhoni to lead Wisden's dream Test team

Published: Thursday, April 9, 2009, 10:34 [IST]
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Five Indians in Dhoni led Wisden dream

London: The prestigious Wisden Cricketers' Almanac named Mahendra Singh Dhoni as skipper of a Dream Test XI that includes Indians Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.

Sehwag was chosen as the 'Leading Cricketer in the World for 2008'.

The explosive opener became the sixth player to be honoured with the award instituted in 2004.

Dhoni has taken India to the threshold of world's best, leading India to three series wins on trot -- against world champions Australia, England and New Zealand. He has won five of his first seven Tests and drawn two.

India's recent success in Tests was recognised by the prestigious publication with as many as five players making the cut.

Australia's Ponting and Mitchell Johnson, South African Graeme Smith and Dale Steyn, West Indies' Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and England's Kevin Pietersen are the other players of the Dream Test XI selected by former cricketers Ravi Shastri (India), Ian Bishop (West Indies) and Ian Smith (New Zealand).

The three former players picked the best eleven taking into consideration the opposition, performances in 2008, the amount of Test cricket they played in the year, the quality of their opponents, and that indefinable blend of class and form.

"The 146th edition of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanac has nominated an elite team. The team which has been selected with Test match cricket - the sport's ultimate format," according to Wisden editor, Scyld Berry.

Berry said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the "unanimous choice as wicketkeeper and No. 7."

"He won the votes of Bishop and Shastri as captain. Smith, however, gave his vote as captain to Graeme Smith who led South Africa to victory over Australia in Australia sealed the deal," Berry said.

"Bishop selected him because of his charisma, which seems to permeate the Indian dressing-room and bring the best out of his team. The former West Indian pacer also noted that India lost in Sri Lanka when Dhoni sat out the series.

"Among other reasons, Shastri liked the way he handles the media in a media-frenzied country, and is immensely composed," Berry was quoted as saying in Cricinfo.

Smith was chosen as the vice-captain of the team.

The opening pair were unanimously agreed to be Sehwag and Smith, the two leading Test run-scorers of 2008.

Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag's opening partner, who averaged 70 against formidable opposition, was also a strong candidate along with other left-handed openers, Chris Gayle, Simon Katich and Andrew Strauss. But Smith was the pick.

Wisden said that Sehwag has taken opening Test innings to a "new level."

"Virender Sehwag had to beat off the strongest of challenges by Graeme Smith to become the Leading Cricketer in the World for 2008. 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.

Tendulkar secured the votes of Shastri and Smith to be No. 4. Bishop went for the promise (and all-round fielding) of A.B. de Villiers.

Harbhajan won a three-way tie on the convener's casting vote. He took 63 wickets in the year and played an important role in two hard-fought series against Australia.

Zaheer pipped Ryan Sidebottom and Ishant Sharma for the new-ball slot.

The left-handed seamer has been architect of India's recent win at home and abroad. Zaheer can use either a new or old ball to full effect and can also bowl long spells.

The Wisden Test XI:

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

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