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Team India’s World Cup Squad

January 17, 2011

The National Selectors met in Chennai, they had filter kaapi and then they announced the list of players who will represent India at the 2011 World Cup.

On the list:

Well of course, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), people ask him to win the World Cup for India when he stops his bike in red light areas.

Sachin Tendulkar: He does well in World Cups, especially alternate ones.

Virender Sehwag: Missed two T20 World Cups in a row due to injuries sustained just before they started. Is currently out of the squad with a shoulder niggle but a report in HT today mentioned that he is recovering from an injured forearm in Germany (Links, anyone?). High impact player, hasn’t played ODIs for a while but was in great form before pulling out. He hasn’t had great World Cup experiences, he’d like to set that record right.

Gautam Gambhir: Being dropped from the 2007 World Cup squad made him very angry and he’s been securing his name on the team sheet for this very tournament ever since he returned later that same year. Had injury troubles and a bad run of scores last year but recovered both in time and style to make it to the 15.

Yuvraj Singh: He was in a brilliant run of form in ODIs and T20s till an injury right before the 2009 Champions Trophy. Things have been very bad since then but he managed to put in a few good knocks in the nick of time to be a part of this squad. His pie chucking has become more of an asset than his once-brilliant fielding.

Suresh Raina: Is perhaps the best fielder in the team with Virat Kohli at the moment. Hasn’t had the really big, match owning performances but a lot of supporting, match winning knocks. Can build innings or take it all the way to eleven if required.

Virat Kohli: Showed he could build and pace innings very well in the few chances he got. Remains to be seen how well he does without overs in hand or support from the other end. But for now, YTMND.

Yusuf Pathan: Hit one big, exciting innings against New Zealand, the team that Bangladesh also flayed. Bowls useful off spinners. The good thing I can say about him is that he’s not Ravindra Jadeja and that Yusuf tries.

Harbhajan Singh: Sometimes he does well, most times he doesn’t but his economy stays stuck near 5. His record in the last two years isn’t as good as you’d expect it to be for someone of his experience. His batting has improved though, I hope it’s not needed but it could be handy.

Praveen Kumar: Has done well considering the roads the guy has had to bowl on. Can be very dangerous in conditions favoring swing, but his fitness is an issue. Broke down temporarily once after eating too much during the innings change. Can slog a bit too.

Zaheer Khan: Zak hasn’t been quite economical but remains important for the control he can bring while bowling at the death. Give him helpful conditions though and he’ll cut through sides ruthlessly. He’s a liability as a fielder though with regular fitness and injury concerns.

Ashish Nehra: Ironically, injuries aren’t a problem for him right now, form is. He’s done well since his comeback, getting early wickets and especially bowling well at the death. His current form though, in SA is scary coming so close to the World Cup. His bowling in tandem with Zaheer was the highlight of the 2003 World Cup for me. Hope he comes good for an encore this time.

Munaf Patel: Another player in and out of the team based on injuries. His recent performances have been surprisingly good, considering he never looks like he’s doing well. Might play ahead of Nehra if their respective forms hold for the next few weeks.

Piyush Chawla: He got a few chances but didn’t impress in them. The important thing is that the last of these chances came quite a while back, in 2008. Hard to see why he would get a game and why he was picked as a specialist spinner ahead of a batsman who can bowl part time. Get Sachin to bowl leg spinners if variety is what we needed.

R Ashwin: He’s had a good start to his international career and the variety he’s got makes him useful. The skipper is also comfortable with him as a go to man and his slogging ability, displayed in the 2010 T20 WC could have helped him edge out Ojha.

Not on the list and probably the reason why:

Rohit Sharma: He’s had an average year in the team which is amazing at a level because he did nothing before that to be in the team. Made two hundreds and a fifty batting in positions from 3-7, took the odd wicket here and there. He didn’t know what to do and now the selectors have realized, neither do they.

Pragyan Ojha: Did he smell like roses only because Bhajji stank up the other end? His 2010 in ODIs wasn’t very promising  and perhaps the selectors decided to go in for Yuvraj’s left arm pie chuck option over Ojha’s specialist offer.

Sreesanth: Expensive in 2010 and a disciplinary liability. Wickets came and the economy dropped against New Zealand which could have put him in the fourth seamer’s slot but it was too late and too little.

Ishant Sharma: Read Sreesanth, only the first line though.

My very balanced and highly important opinion on it:

Injuries are real, they happen. More so with this team with it’s dodgy knees, unreliable ankles, strung out hamstrings, brittle fingers, packed schedule and optional training sessions.

The batting department is well covered with three openers in the team, all of them likely to start. But even one injury could mean a batsman will have to be replaced with a bowler. And if Dhoni gets injured, expect Kohli or Raina to get their squat on.
Then there are three spinners when just two would have sufficed, there are five part time spin options, all of them sure to start for god’s sake.
Two out of the three pacers are injury suspects with the spearhead being a repeated offender and the third pacer currently may or may not be in bad form. A fourth pace option is absolutely required and by pace I do not mean the gentle lollies of Vinay Kumar.

For all the faults we can find with it, this team is still capable of winning the World Cup, heck, one man in this team has been preparing and waiting more than 20 years for this. It’s a fine mix, let’s hope it does the trick.

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