The Indian cricket team has conquered the world, and grown leaps in Test format in overseas conditions since the past two decades. While they were a successful One-Day International (ODI) team in the 20th century, the displays in the longer format left a lot to be desired.
But it all changed drastically, especially since the start of the 21st century. Under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, India not only got positive results in the format at home, but also on their tours. In 2003/04, they toured Australia, and managed to draw the three-Test series 1-1, which was a historical result. The success abroad continued under Rahul Dravid, who led India to 1-0 series win over England in 2007.
One of the players who was part of India's success abroad during both Ganguly and Dravid's time was VVS Laxman. In a team which had superstars like Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Anil Kumble, Laxman's impact in the team usually went under the radar. His record in England, considered as one of the toughest places for batsmen, was very acceptable.
Now, after his playing days in the swinging conditions are over, he gives out his views out in the commentary box. And ahead of the fourth Test against between India and England, which Virat Kohli and co. trail 2-1, Laxman, voicing his opinion for ESPNcricinfo, picked his 'best Indian XI' through over the past 25 years in the English conditions. While some of his picks were very obvious, there were a couple of surprises.
He picked Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay as his openers. Sehwag was one of the most fearsome batsman of his time, though, he averaged a mere 27.80 in England. As for Vijay, he is presently out of the Indian squad following his poor displays in the past few matches, but was one of the best players when India toured the country in 2014.
At No.3 comes Dravid. The 'Wall' had an average of 68.80 in 13 matches he played in England. But his biggest achievement was guiding India to a historic series win in 2007. Following Dravid are the two best batsmen in India's cricket history.
The No.4 spot was designated for Sachin Tendulkar, and no one could have had a question about it. But after him, Laxman decided to not include himself, but chose Virat Kohli. The present Indian skipper had a shocking tour of 2014, but has been impeccable in the ongoing Test series.
Heading forward, Ganguly was picked to bat at No.6, and was given the responsibility by Laxman to skipper the team. The wicketkeeper-batsman's role went to MS Dhoni, who was referred as the 'best wicketkeeper-batsman in India's history'.
As for the bowlers, three of Laxman's options were very obvious. The inclusion of Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan was a must, given their record. But for the fourth bowler, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was picked over Ishant Sharma, the man who was good in 2014, and has become even better in 2018.
VVS Laxman's 'Best India XI' in England conditions: Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Sourav Ganguly (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan