Where Shane Bonds with Glenn

The World Cup is over and S. Dinakar forms a team from among those who performed well in the event.

Imagine a side where Shane Bond hunts with Glenn McGrath and Ricky Ponting demolishes attacks with Kevin Pietersen — the World Cup best to take on the finest from Planet X.

Let's look at the XI. Captain: Mahela Jayawardene

Ricky Ponting has led Australia to successive World Cup triumphs; a strong captain of a team fuel-driven by the desire to achieve new levels of excellence. The Aussie has evolved as a captain, the Ashes setback in Old Blighty maturing him greatly. Ponting is calmer, more in control.

His captaincy is streaked with aggression. The relentless pressure — a combination of precise bowling and sharp fielding — created by Ponting's men evokes mistakes.

In the World Cup, Ponting had both experience and firepower in bowling. And the side's formidable batting provided the attack with the cushion of runs. The Aussies invariably cantered home. In certain respects, Ponting's captaincy was not stretched.

Indeed, there were occasions when Ponting's captaincy appeared programmed. Perhaps it had to do with the machine-like nature of the Australian attack.

Mahela Jayawardene's side was outbatted in the truncated final, but this was a competition where his captaincy skills demanded attention. Jayawardene innovated, comprehended the flow of the game, and surprised the adversary.

Whether delaying the Power Play overs — in some cases it became harder for the side to clout a softer ball around — or setting the field cleverly, Jayawardene excelled.

The pro-active Jayawardene shuffled his bowlers, switched his fielders and made things happen. He was the captain of the World Cup.

The Openers: It would be hard to look beyond Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, both influential, both explosive. Both are left-handers not lacking in height, but Gilchrist bats with a distinctly top-handed grip. The bowlers have to alter lengths in the Power Play overs and beyond.

Hayden has worked on his back-lift, tightened his game around the off-stump. It would be tempting to have a right-hander to partner one of the two. However, this was a tournament where the southpaws blazed at the top of the order. Abraham de Villiers had his moments, but the South African, a hand-eye coordination batsman, is much too impulsive in his methods.

In fact, it is another left-hander, the ageless Sanath Jayasuriya, who would be a serious contender for an opening slot, particularly since Chris Gayle fired too late. A place will be found for Jayasuriya, but later in the order.

Gilchrist also edges out Kumara Sangakkara as the wicket-keeper batsman. This said, Sangakkara's lightning stumping to dismiss Brian Lara while standing up to Chaminda Vaas was breathtaking.

No. 3: No questions asked here. With technique and flair, Ricky Ponting is the finest contemporary batsman. Importantly, he dominates attacks. If the situation demands, he can bat through troubled times working the ball through the gaps and then change gears. The Aussie's footwork and balance enable him to get into the right positions. The ideal right-hander to follow the left-handed openers.

No. 4: The smooth-stroking Jayawardene conjured a classic against the Kiwis in the semifinal; a beautifully paced effort of watchfulness followed by aggression. The Lankan can dismantle attacks with a delicate touch, has this knack of finding the gaps, is fluent on both sides of the wicket. The quick-thinking, fleet-footed Jayawardene adds value to the middle-order. That he can don the role of a stayer in a line-up of stroke-makers clinches his place.

No. 5: England's Kevin Pietersen can dent a bowler's ego and figures. The right-hander's hundred against Australia reflected his ability. He is the kind of batsman who disrupts the rhythm of the bowlers, gets them to bowl differently. Pietersen's attacking instincts and the ability to swing matches make him a must in this all-star team.

No. 6: With three right-handers walking in after the openers, it would not be a bad idea to have a left-hander here. Sanath Jayasuriya has batted before in the middle order and could provide impetus to the innings in the latter stages when the pacemen return. The Lankan's left-arm spin — he has close to 300 scalps in ODIs — throws light on his versatility. With captains finding it hard to manage two specialist spinners due to the increased Power Play overs, Jayasuriya's bowling can be extremely handy. And let's not forget his ability to hurt attacks with short-arm jabs — he almost magically creates width — and huge drives.

No. 7. Jacob Oram is the right man here, especially with Michael Hussey going off the boil. And Oram complements his big-hitting prowess with the bounce and the away movement of his medium-paced bowling. Andrew Flintoff's reverse swing still stings, but his batting has gone down a notch or two. Ideally, Flintoff would be the choice, but Oram secures the slot on form.

The pacemen: The pace attack should comprise McGrath, Bond and Lasith Malinga, with Oram providing the cover. McGrath with his control, craft and off-stump line is matchless. His ability to swing the ball in — the Aussie changes length better than most believe — makes it difficult for the batsmen to settle. The Aussie still cuts like a knife, especially in the early overs.

Bond's pace and the ability to outswing the new ball and reverse swing the old one, make him a dangerous adversary. He can operate in any stage of the innings — Bond invariably struck in his crucial second spell in the Caribbean — and is a captain's dream ... fitness permitting.

In a battle of slingers, Lasith Malinga edges out the quicker Shaun Tait. The Lankan, given that he delivers in front of the umpire's chest, is harder to pick and has a better disguised slower ball. And his reverse swinging yorkers can be lethal as the South Africans discovered. Bond and Malinga should bowl at the Death in a combination of pace and reverse swing.

Muttiah Muralitharan will be the lone specialist spinner, mixing his off-spin with his doosras and changing his trajectory. His quicker ball from round the wicket or his flighted teasers would not allow the batsmen to breathe easy.