Former Indian opener names Rohit Sharma-starrer Test XI of 2021, no room for Virat Kohli

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Dec 13, 2021, 11:11 PM IST
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Former Indian opener-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra named his Test team of 2021, starring Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Rishabh Pant, Kane Williamson and the likes. However, there was no room for Captain Virat Kohli.

The year 2021 was filled with plenty of cricketing action. The calendar year saw the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final being held, where Kane Williamson-led New Zealand won the title. Apart from that, there were plenty of action and drama which came from the purest format, in the form of India-England Tests (both men's and women's), India vs Australia Tests (both in men's and women's), Pakistan-Bangladesh series, Sri Lanka-West Indies series, etc.

With the year coming to an end, former Indian opener-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra picked his Test team of 2021. Chopra's team included some star-studded names and comprises four Indians. However, Captain Virat Kohli found no mention in his line-up.

For the unversed, Kohli didn't have a great year with the bat. While he led India with aplomb in the England series (both home and away) and a series win over New Zealand at home, he failed to cross the triple-figure mark and amassed only 483 runs, with four fifties, at 28.41. Hence, Chopra's list included Rohit Sharma (India's highest run-getter in 2021), Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin and Axar Patel.

Rohit compiled 906 runs, at 47.68, and is the second-highest run-getter overall. Ashwin leads the list of most wickets in Tests in the calendar year (52 scalps) whereas Axar accounted for 36 wickets (fourth overall). Pant, on the other hand, scored 706 runs with five fifties and one hundred (second-most by an Indian) and also showed vast improvement a a keeper. Both Pant and Ashwin have a chance to better their numbers in India's only Test remaining in 2021; i.e. the South Africa Test series opener in Centurion on December 26. Meanwhile, Rohit and Axar have been ruled out of action due to injury concerns.

Speaking about the top-order, Chopra's XI comprised Rohit, Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Joe Root and NZ's skipper Williamson.

He said in a video on his YouTube channel, "The first name coming to my mind is Rohit Sharma. It was a huge year for him, it was the year in which he fell in love with the longest format. He played amazing knocks, whether it was the century in Chennai and the consistent performances in England.  My second opener is Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne. He has also made runs which also includes a double century. He was playing well against West Indies also. He might not be too pleasing on the eye but scores runs.".

"There was no contest at No.3. Joe Root is part of this team. He is the best Test batter of 2021, miles above the rest. He is just in a different league altogether. He gave amazing performances, whether it was the double century in India or Sri Lanka. At No.4, I have got Williamson. He scored a double century against Pakistan and he won his team the final. He played a very important knock in the final as well. Kane Williamson is also the captain of this team," Chopra further asserted.

For the middle-order, Chopra named Fawad Alam, Pant, Ashwin and Axar. "My team has Fawad Alam. It is a story of persistence, that he will keep on playing whether you select him or not. He has made runs, the noticeable performances being 109 against South Africa, 140 against Zimbabwe and 124 against West Indies. The keeper is Rishabh Pant. I was thinking about Jos Buttler as well but no one was close to him. The sort of performances Rishabh Pant has given - 101 against England, 89 at Gabba and a ninety in Sydney as well. He has been very very good."

"After that, I am picking two Indians (including Axar). Ravichandran Ashwin - he has taken a lot of wickets. He was brilliant in India against England. He made a century against England as well. He is the no.1 spinner in Test cricket, there is no doubt about it."

For the rest of the line-up, Chopra shared his picks and said, "I have picked two fast bowlers apart from Jamieson. Jimmy Anderson - he took 32 wickets this year. He did well in India, took a five-wicket haul in Sri Lanka and did well against India again at home. Last but not the least, I have got Shaheen Afridi. His performances this year have been very good. He was also taking five-wicket hauls like Axar. It will also give a left-armer, he is tall, pitches the ball up and makes it swing," he concluded.

Aakash Chopra's Test XI of the year: Rohit Sharma, Dimuth Karunaratne, Joe Root, Kane Williamson (c), Fawad Alam, Rishabh Pant, Kyle Jamieson, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, James Anderson, Shaheen Afridi