MS Dhoni has made it to ESPNcricinfo's India all-time XI, beating record-holding wicketkeepers Syed Kirmani and Kiran More, by virtue of his superior batting. Dhoni was picked by seven members of the 11-person jury, which was unanimous in voting Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Vinoo Mankad into the XI.
The No. 5 spot divided the jury the most, and Vijay Hazare, who played only eight innings in that position (one of them in the Adelaide Test of 1948, where he made two centuries), was preferred over the likes of Gundappa Viswanath, MAK Pataudi, Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohinder Amarnath and VVS Laxman.
The opening positions are taken by Virender Sehwag (10 votes) and Gavaskar, a blend of attack and defence, while the presence of Rahul Dravid (nine votes) and Tendulkar at Nos. 3 and 4 makes India's the only batting line-up among the eight leading countries, for which ESPNcricinfo has picked all-time XIs, to have over 42,000 Test runs between the top four.
Only one bowler from India's legendary spin quartet of the 70s makes it to the XI. Offspinner Erapalli Prasanna, with 189 wickets in 49 Tests, joins Anil Kumble (nine votes), Javagal Srinath and Kapil to form the bowling line-up. Allrounder Mankad, who took 162 wickets at 32.32 with his slow left-armers, completes the spin-dominated attack.
India's XI is the only one to feature just two fast bowlers. Australia had fast-bowling allrounder Keith Miller to back Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath, and South Africa had Mike Procter to help Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald.
Among the notable omissions, who did not make it to the XIs of any of the jury members, were former captain Mohammad Azharuddin; Bishan Bedi, perhaps the most highly rated of the spin quartet; and wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer.
ESPNcricinfo readers were invited to vote on the shortlists and their XI matched the jury's in all but one: Laxman was the readers' choice for No. 5 instead of Hazare.
The jury included former Test players Sanjay Manjrekar and Arun Lal, former Mumbai player and coach Vasu Paranjape, sports journalists Pradeep Magazine, Ayaz Memon, R Mohan and Suresh Menon, cricket historian Ramachandra Guha and television commentator Harsha Bhogle.
Read more about the XI here.
The XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad, Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Erapalli Prasanna.
Readers' XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Vinoo Mankad, Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Erapalli Prasanna.
Openers: Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Merchant, Virender Sehwag, Navjot Sidhu.
Middle order: Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Gundappa Viswanath, Vijay Hazare, MAK Pataudi, Mohinder Amarnath, Polly Umrigar, Sourav Ganguly, CK Nayudu, Mohammad Azharuddin, Dilip Vengsarkar.
Allrounders: Kapil Dev, Dattu Phadkar, Vinoo Mankad, Manoj Prabhakar.
Wicketkeepers: Naren Tamhane, Kiran More, Syed Kirmani, Nayan Mongia, MS Dhoni.
Fast bowlers: Javagal Srinath, Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, Mohammad Nissar, Amar Singh.
Spinners: Anil Kumble, Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Subhash Gupte, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Harbhajan Singh, Dilip Doshi, S Venkataraghavan, Vinoo Mankad.