In this episode of Dream Team, we go back to the years when Steve Waugh's Australia dominated world cricket, specifically between 1999 and 2004, when he was captain. The task at hand: to pick a team from that era that could beat Australia in Australia in a Test series. Taking up the challenge are Sambit Bal, ESPNcricinfo's editor in chief, and senior editors Osman Samiuddin and Andrew Miller.
A three-way race for the two opening spots
Who makes the cut?
Vaughan, Sehwag, Anwar or AN Other?
Which two openers of that period succeeded against Glenn McGrath, Michael Kasprowicz and Jason Gillespie? Virender Sehwag's 195 at the MCG came against an Australia side that did not feature McGrath or Shane Warne, and Graeme Smith didn't play in Australia before 2005. Marcus Trescothick, Gary Kirsten and Saeed Anwar make strong cases, but eventually the selectors went for the two men who always lifted their game against the Aussies.
Who do you leave out from this batting-rich era?
Nearly every team has a candidate or two to put up against Waugh's Australians
A million-dollar middle order
The early 2000s were a great time for batting. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were superb for India. So were Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan for West Indies, and Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf for Pakistan. There are also Jacques Kallis, Mahela Jayawardene, Andy Flower and Nathan Astle to consider. Small problem: you can only pick four.
Kumble, Murali or Saqlain?
Our panelists decide on the best spinner to take on the dominant Aussies
Picking the lone spinner from a golden generation
Six supreme spinners - Muttiah Muralitharan, Danish Kaneria, Saqlain Mushtaq, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Daniel Vettori - all operated in the same period, but the idea of fielding two spinners in Australia has never really worked. And the selectors also had to decide between fingerspin and wristspin.
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