Cricket Australia's best Test XI of 2021: Four Indians included
Cricket Australia (CA) has named its best Test XI of the Year (2021). Indian opener Rohit Sharma, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, all-rounder Axar Patel, and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been included in the line-up. Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne leads the side, while Pant has been named the wicket-keeper. Pakistan seamers Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali are also among the 11 players. Here are further details.
Rohit and Karunaratne are the two openers in the side. The former finished the year as India's leading run-scorer. He smashed 906 runs from 11 Tests at a remarkable average of 47.68. The senior opener made headlines with his solid knocks overseas. Meanwhile, Karunaratne finished behind Rohit with 902 runs at 69.38. He slammed four centuries with the best score of 244.
Australia's Marnus Labuschagne has been in sublime form of late. The top-order batter was impressive in the five Tests he featured in, having scored 526 runs at 65.75. He fired tons against India (in Brisbane) and England (in Adelaide). Labuschagne attained the top spot in the ICC Test Rankings for batters. Notably, the 27-year-old presently averages 60.40 in Test cricket.
Joe Root, who was the lone warrior for England in 2021, follows Labuschagne. Although England's performance went from bad to worse, Root continued to shatter records with the bat. Root finished as the only batter with over 1,000 Test runs (1,708) in 2021. In fact, he became the only English batter to have smashed over 1,700 Test runs in a calendar year.
Pakistan's 'comeback man' Fawad Alam comes in at number five. He is one of three batters with three or more Test centuries this year (571 runs at 57.10). India's Rishabh Pant follows Alam on this list. The left-handed batter made an impact with his destructive knocks down the order. His majestic 89* guided India to a series-clinching win at the Gabba, Brisbane.
It was a record-breaking year for Ashwin as well, who serves as an all-rounder in CA's Test XI. He remained the only bowler with over 50 Test wickets (54) in 2021. Ashwin overtook Harbhajan Singh's wickets tally to become the most successful off-spinner for India in Test cricket. The former also slammed his fifth Test century against England in Chennai.
Axar Patel accompanies Ashwin in the spin-bowling arsenal. The former owns 36 wickets from just five Tests this year. He bagged 27 in his first three Tests. NZ's Kyle Jamieson, who averages 17.51 in 2021, is the strike bowler. Pakistan seamer Shaheen Afridi shares the new ball with him (47 wickets in nine matches). Hasan Ali claimed the third seamer's spot (41 scalps).