One of the few things which set cricket apart from most other sports is the effect of playing conditions on the performance of players. The type of soil, grass, wind and even climate in different countries make a huge difference in the performances of players. Players who are unaccustomed to pitches in a particular country often struggle to make an impact during the matches played in the stadiums of that nation.
Cricketers from the Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh have often failed to perform up to their potential in countries like South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia (SENA Countries) and vice-versa.
Pitches in the subcontinent often tend to support spinners while those in SENA countries are much more suitable for pacers. Players from all the cricket playing nations are prone to hitting a dip in their form as soon as they come out of their comfort zone.
Despite such hardships, many players from SENA countries and the Caribbean have managed to perform well in Asia. On the other hand, players from the subcontinent have traditionally enjoyed success in the matches played here.
Here we discuss the Best XI of the players who have performed well in the Asian countries:
1. Rohit Sharma
Opening the batting is the power-hitter from India. Popularly known as the ‘Hitman’ amongst his fans, Sharma has grown-up from a prodigy to one of the central figures in Team India across all formats.
After a few mediocre years at the beginning of his career, he experienced a change in fortune after he was promoted up the order to open the batting. Since then, he has grown from strength to strength to become one of the most successful openers in the modern era.
As far as limited-overs cricket is concerned, Rohit Sharma has enjoyed tremendous success both in and outside Asia. However, in the longest format of the game, he has managed to perform exceedingly well only in the home conditions. Nevertheless, his batting prowess makes him one of the most dangerous batsmen in the subcontinent.
In 2019, he was the highest run-scorer in the ODI series against West Indies with 258 runs in 3 innings. He topped the scoring charts in the Test series versus South Africa also wherein he scored 529 runs in just 4 innings with 2 centuries and a double hundred. All of his ODI double hundreds were also scored in home conditions. Thus, it would be safe to guarantee his position as an opener in this XI.
2. Mayank Agarwal
Up until 2018, Mayank Agarwal was a relatively unknown entity in the International cricket. He made his debut in the Test Series against Australia down under and was asked to open the batting. Facing the tall and menacing pacers of Australia, he managed to make a mark for himself by scoring a couple of fifties. He had to wait for one more series in the Caribbean before he could make his debut in India.
In his first match in India, Agarwal stole all the limelight as he managed to score a double hundred. He ended up with 340 runs in that series with a century and a double hundred to his name. He followed it up in the next series against Bangladesh where he emerged as the highest run-scorer.
In the series against the eastern neighbours, Agarwal scored his career-best score of 243 and that too with a strike rate of more than 73. Most of Mayank’s runs in his International career have come in India and he has an enviable record in home conditions. Thus, he would be the appropriate choice to accompany Rohit Sharma as an opener.
3. Virat Kohli (c)
The Indian skipper is popularly regarded as the best batsman in the world by many cricket fans. A cricketer with the records as incredible and astonishing as Virat Kohli definitely deserves to be included in this playing XI. Virat has enjoyed success in all formats of cricket in almost all countries throughout the world.
Despite his overall success, Kohli’s exploits in the subcontinent deserve a special mention. His highest ODI score of 183 came in an Asia Cup match against Pakistan. His highest Test score of 254* was also scored in home conditions against Bangladesh.
More than 30 of his International centuries were scored in India. He also has 11 centuries in the other countries of the subcontinent. Thus, Virat Kohli bat at No. 3 and will captain this playing XI.
4. Steven Smith
The Australian batsman is one of the few SENA cricketers who have not faced many problems whilst batting in the subcontinent. His unorthodox style of batting is a source of headache for many bowlers across the world. He is one of the most consistent batsmen across all formats in the modern era.
He made his debut as a leg-spinner and was initially touted as the next Shane Warne. However, his batting skills gradually took notice and he emerged as one of the best Australian batsmen, now drawing comparisons with Sir Donald Bradman. Unlike his counterparts, Smith has enjoyed a lot of success in Asia.
In one of his initial series as a batsman in India in 2013, he announced himself as a batsman by scoring 92 runs on a tricky wicket. In 2017, he emerged as the top run-scorer in the Test series against India in India by scoring 499 runs in 8 innings with 3 tons under his belt. In this playing XI, he would anchor the innings along with Virat Kohli.
5. Babar Azam
The prodigy from Pakistan would follow Virat Kohli and Steven Smith at No. 5. Of late, Azam has established himself as the best batsman from Pakistan. He is by far, their most consistent batsman across all three formats.
Since his debut, Babar has made and broken many records. He has performed well whenever needed and has always risen to the occasion in the times of a batting collapse. Despite Pakistan playing most of their matches in UAE outside their real home grounds, he has managed to steer them to victory on multiple occasions.
After the return of cricket to Pakistan last year, he managed to become the second-highest run-scorer in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. He was also the second-highest run-scorer in the Test series against the same country, scoring 262 runs in just 3 innings with 2 tons.
6. Glenn Maxwell
The ‘New Mr. 360’ from Australia in the next player on this list. Maxwell is one of the most dangerous, explosive yet interesting players amongst the modern batch of cricketers. His aggressive approach since the very beginning often instils fear in the mind of the opposition.
Though a bit inconsistent throughout various formats, Maxwell has enjoyed huge success while batting in the subcontinent especially UAE. The flat pitches in Asia coupled with his position as a finisher complement his ‘no holds barred’ approach towards the match. Along with his batting, his off-break makes him a complete package for a match in Asia.
Maxwell has enjoyed huge success in IPL, both in the matches played in India as well as in the UAE. In the 2019 series against Pakistan in UAE, he managed to score 258 runs in 4 innings at an average of 64.5. Two of his three T20I centuries were also scored in Asia.
7. Jos Buttler (wk)
The dynamic wicket-keeper batsman from England follows Glenn Maxwell as the finisher of the innings. Buttler is one of the mainstays of the England batting line-up and constantly features throughout all three formats. The British vice-captain is the most explosive and creative player from his nation.
Buttler has also enjoyed a lot of success in Asia, particularly in the IPL where he opens the innings for Rajasthan Royals. Just like Maxwell, the flat pitches of the subcontinent suit his batting style which is the major reason for his success. He idolizes MS Dhoni and just like his role model, he is establishing himself into a reliable finisher.
In the Test series against Sri Lanka in 2018, Buttler was the highest run-scorer for his team, making 250 runs in 3 matches. Apart from this, he has scored a truckload of runs in the IPL too. Thus, he dons the wicket-keeping gloves in this XI.
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
If there is any bowler, who has made full use of his favourable home conditions, it has to be Ravichandran Ashwin. Most of his wickets in Test cricket were scalped in India. The difference between his performances in the subcontinent and overseas is so huge that he is hardly considered for overseas Test matches now.
Ashwin has scalped more than 360 wickets in International cricket with 27 five-wicket hauls. In his career, he has managed to get 10 wickets in a match on 7 instances. In India’s 2016-17 home season, Ashwin managed to take 79 wickets in thus becoming the overall highest wicket-taker in a single home season.
24 of his 27 five-wicket hauls in Test were in the subcontinent. Even his career-best figures of 7/59 came in Holkar Stadium in Indore. His batting skills along with his astonishing record with the ball in the subcontinent make a strong case for the bowling all-rounder from Tamil Nadu.
9. Pat Cummins
The pace sensation from Australia is next on the list. Pat Cummins is one of the few bowlers who can bowl at a great speed while maintaining an accurate line and length. In a career marred by injuries, he has managed to stand apart from the crowd through his magnificent performances.
Cummins’ accuracy is one of his greatest assets which make him a threat even on the flat sub-continent pitches. He puts the batsmen under pressure by not allowing any width to them, thus creating chances for a potential wicket. His skills with the ball fetched him a heavy IPL contract, thus making him the highest-paid foreign cricketer in the history of the league.
In the 2018 ODI series against India in India, Cummins was the highest wicket-taker with 14 wickets in just 5 innings at an average of just over 15. He can also bat and score a few important runs in the death overs. Thus, in this playing XI, he will spearhead the pace attack.
10. Mohammed Shami
The pacer from West Bengal is highly regarded for his impressive seam-position. Of late, he has established himself as one of the mainstays in the Indian team. In fact, he is the only pacer apart from Jasprit Bumrah, who features in all three formats of the game.
Shami took precedence over Jasprit Bumrah as the second pacer because of his impressive record in home conditions. While Bumrah has enjoyed a lot of success in SENA countries and the Caribbean, Shami has shone through in the subcontinent. Shami has an impressive record in India in all three formats.
In the test series against South Africa in 2019, he was the second-highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets. He also scalped 9 wickets in the following series against Bangladesh. He is regarded as a ‘second-innings specialist’ by many because of his breathtaking performances in the second innings of test matches. Thus, Shami will assist Pat Cummins in the pace department in this playing XI.
11. Adam Zampa
The leg-spinner from the land down under is the last person on this list. He is by far the best Australian wrist-spinner of the current generation. His fearlessness against batsman even after being plundered for runs make him a great asset.
Zampa has been particularly successful against the Indian captain Virat Kohli. He has managed to dismiss him for 7 times in International cricket. On a larger scale, he has enjoyed a lot of success in the Indian subcontinent. He is the only spinner who has managed to get a 6 wicket haul in IPL.
In the 2019 series against India, Zampa scalped 11 wickets in 5 matches at an average of 25.82. Also, in the 2020 series against the same opposition, he managed to get 5 wickets at an average of just over 29. Thus, he will manage the spin department in this playing XI along with Ravichandran Ashwin.
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