Cricket analyst and commentator Harsha Bhogle selected his best Test playing XI of 2021. The team included three Indian players and two Pakistanis, along with one each from West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, England, and Sri Lanka. As openers, Rohit Sharma and Dimuth Karunaratne were chosen because of their consistent performances. Rohit has amassed as many as 906 runs in 11 matches while Karunaratne has scored 902 runs in 7 games.
In a video shared by Cricbuzz, Harsha Bhogle said, “When I saw him (Dimuth Karunaratne) first, I thought there is something about Karunraratne. I thought Rohit Sharma was a standout opening batsman this year, always good in home conditions, but in England this year, he was in a different league.”
Australian batting talisman, Marnus Labuschagne, England captain, Joe Root, Pakistan batter, Fawad Alam, and Indian wicket-keeper, Rishabh Pant filled out the middle-order.
Explaining his choices, Harsha Bhogle said, “He (Labuschagne) is just in fantastic form. His numbers are very good. He got runs against India and England, so Labuschagne at three was easy. The easiest, of course, was Joe Root. When he played well, England were competitive, when he didn’t play well, there was nothing to look forward to. Had a very peculiar stance, you looked at him and said, ‘right, how he is going to score runs’?.”
He further added, “He made three hundreds in this year, and it was a joy watching Fawad Alam bat. I’ve gone with Rishabh Pant at number six. I went with him because he played game-changing innings, whether it was almost pulling it off in Sydney, that fantastic inning in Brisbane, then he got a 90 and a hundred against England, and his wicketkeeping also went to another level.”
The all-rounder duo of Jason Holder and Ravichandran Ashwin have been picked for the no.7 & 8 slots. As for the fast bowling attack, Shaheen Afridi, Anrich Nortje, and New Zealand’s latest sensation, Kyle Jamieson were the ones that Bhogle went with.
Elaborating on the bowling options, Harsha Bhogle said, “I looked for seam bowling all-rounders, and I couldn’t look further than Jason Holder. Number eight is my spinner, and there was one spinner who was better than everybody else. I’ve gone with Ravichandran Ashwin at number eight.”
He also added, “Shaheen Shah Afridi is in fantastic form; the left-armer swings the ball, he has got a very decent pace. I went with Nortje (Anrich Nortje) out and out fast bowler, so I’ve got a left-hander and an out-and-out fast bowler. Jamieson will add depth to the batting, bounce that he gets, wonderful control over length, swings a little bit.”
Harsha Bhogle’s Test team XI of the year: Rohit Sharma, Dimuth Karunaratne, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Root, Fawad Alam, Rishabh Pant, Jason Holder, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Anrich Nortje, Kyle Jamieson.