In this series, Hot Seat, we present our writers with a tricky cricketing scenario and ask them to captain their way out of it. Also, check out some of the best reader answers to our previous scenario here. And if you have answers to the scenario below or suggestions for scenarios, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's day five in Durban, where the pitch is offering a bit of seam and spin, but nothing too alarming. You are captaining a World XI side against South Africa and are chasing 280 on the fifth day. At tea, you are five down with 110 left to get from a possible 35 overs. Which current No. 4 and No. 7 would you pick to be in this situation? Your Nos. 8 to 11 are Pat Cummins, R Ashwin, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah.
Karthik Krishnaswamy: Ross Taylor and Niroshan Dickwella
Steven Smith is the best batsman out there, by a massive margin, and he bats at No. 4. As does Virat Kohli, whose ODI chasing skills could also come in handy here, but where's the fun in picking either of them? I'll go instead with Ross Taylor, who has pulled off some brilliant limited-overs chases himself and has all the gears you'd need for this situation, including the ability to shut up shop and block out the end overs if it comes to that. With him will be Niroshan Dickwella, who is innovative, left-handed (useful for going after Keshav Maharaj's left-arm spin), and easily the best in the world at winding up bowlers strategically - as he showed in the closing stages of the 2017 Kolkata Test - in order to get them chattering between deliveries, which will eat up precious seconds and minutes if the World XI need to bat for a draw.
Andrew Fidel Fernando: Kusal Perera and BJ Watling
I'm going to go for Kusal Perera, who of course played one of the all-time great innings from almost exactly this position, at this very ground, only 15 months ago. The point with Perera is that he's one of those batsmen who can go into berserker mode and rattle South Africa, an infamously rattle-able team. To balance this wildest of wild cards, I'd throw in the most sensible No. 7 (and possibly the most sensible person, in general) that I can think of: BJ Watling. There are few lower-order batsmen who are better in tough situations. And the man could strike up a prudent and productive partnership with a broomstick if required. Even Trent Boult, who is probably the most fun tailender right now, might find himself stroking sober singles past mid-off while at the other end Watling gently massages the World XI to their target.
Andrew Miller: Joe Root and Chris Woakes
This is the scenario that Joe Root is itching to take down. He may not be quite the shoo-in to cricket's Fab Four that he seemed a couple of seasons ago, but he's a stubborn git beneath his cherubic exterior, especially when it comes to his position in the batting order. He averages 50.02 in 70 innings at No.4, and having repeatedly resisted exhortations to move up to first drop (where his average slips to 38.12), this is his chance to end the debate once and for all. Alongside him, I'm going to opt for a straight-laced sidekick because taking the chase deep is the first objective - there are two No. 8s still in the hutch for the final push, but two No.11s waiting to be exposed if we over-reach ourselves too soon. Step forward Chris Woakes, who made his one and only Test hundred at No. 7, against India in 2018, but whose technique is among the most watertight in the England line-up - especially if the pitch isn't offering too much heat for the quicks. Let's eat up 20 overs with measured accumulation and see how the land lies for the final hour.
Alan Gardner: Ben Stokes and Rishabh Pant
Much as I'm tempted to pick Ben Stokes and Jack Leach, drop my mic and stroll off stage, I guess there's probably a more sure-fire route to victory from this point (and Bumrah can probably just about pull off the Leach role from No.11 if required). Stokes is in, though, as the current king of the chase, and even though we only need to knock it around at three an over, I'm going to call on the heavy artillery from both ends. Rishabh Pant has made domineering hundreds in England and Australia, so I reckon he'd be good value to extend his excellent SENA record. South Africa were given a memorable fourth-innings tonking at Durban by one spiky left-hander last year, so how on earth would they handle two?
Danyal Rasool: Babar Azam and Colin de Grandhomme
Everyone has that friend who comes over to play FIFA and then insists on playing with the side with the most superstars. So, soon enough, you stop inviting them over. To avoid falling victim to that fate, I'll steer clear of Steven Smith. I'll pick Babar Azam instead, who has been at the top of his game for a while. Since October 2018, Babar has averaged 64.94 in 23 Test innings; by comparison, Virat Kohli averages 52.04 in that period in as many innings. Babar's run includes some delightful batting in South Africa, where he took apart Dale Steyn. At No.7, why not pick a man who could finish the game off in a hurry if he found himself running out of partners? Colin de Grandhomme is that kind of player and likes pace on the ball. Keshav Maharaj could be a struggle, but de Grandhomme has the ability to hit over extra cover with incredible power. All he needs to do is clear the fence a couple of times to make the South Africans nervous. And don't we all know what happens when South Africans get nervous?
To read more in the series, click here.