Monday, January 17, 2011

India Squad for WC 2011

I have been a follower of all Cricket World Cups since 1999 edition, but this one is rather special because now I will be following more closely than ever as a blogger.

The final XV for announced by Kris Srikkanth and co are as follows:

2. Virender Sehwag(VC)
3. Sachin Tendulkar
4. Gautam Gambhir
5. Virat Kohli
6. Yuvraj Singh
7. Suresh Raina
8. Yusuf Pathan
9. Harbhajan Singh
10. Zaheer Khan
11. Munaf Patel
12. Ashish Nehra
13. Praveen Kumar
14. Ravichandran Ashwin
15. Piyush Chawla

I have never liked the present group of selectors because their decisions on more than one occasion have seemed absurd to me. But, selecting this squad didn't require rocket science. 13 of the players have selected themselves on the weight of performance. The other two which are being debated the most currently are Ashish Nehra and Piyush Chawla.

Ashish Nehra is a fine ODI bowler and deserves being called up. I think people in general don't like his selection because of a couple bad performances that he has recently managed. Otherwise, he has been India's best ODI bowler in last two years and no questions should be asked about him.

Piyush Chawla is the big surprise. He hasn't played a ODI in the last 30 months and in fact, he is yet to make his debut in ODIs in India as Shridhar rightly points out here. Three specialist spinners are not required when we already have 3-4 handy part time spinning options. Its not that I don't like Chawla, but the timing of his selection and more importantly, the tournament in which he has been picked is wrong. Chawla is talented and has variety(remember Kevin Pietersen and Sachin Tendulkar), but Pragyan Ojha will feel the pinch of being dropped after being the main second spinner for a long time. Surely going to dent his confidence, though I am quiet used to selectors playing musical chairs with spinners.

Piyush Chawla's spot could have been used to pick another pacer or even a batsmen. We are all aware of injuries to Praveen Kumar, Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar. Not to forget, Zaheer Khan is also coping with regular fitness issues. So, taking a fifth pacer in form of Sreesanth would not be a bad idea. Maybe even a 9th batsmen would make better sense. Maybe somebody like a Robin Uthappa who could back-up as a keeper as well as batsmen.

The best combination on Indian tracks, according to me would be 6 batsmen and 5 bowlers. Sub-continent pitches are known to be flat and India's strength is its batting(also because batsmen are used to the conditions). So, why not keep an extra fifth bowler in the line-up ?? After all, if one of the four bowlers playing has a bad day, then you have just 3 regular bowlers to keep the opposition in check. Of course the team management prefers playing a 7-4 combination. So accoringly, the following is my playing XI in the order I would want them:

1. Gautam Gambhir
2. Virender Sehwag
3. Virat Kohli/SRT
4. Sachin Tendulkar/VK
5. Yuvraj Singh
6. MS Dhoni
7. Yusuf Pathan
8. Harbhajan Singh
9. Zaheer Khan
10. Ashish Nehra/Praveen Kumar/Ravichandran Ashwin(depending on situation and conditions)
11. Munaf Patel

Dropping Raina is a tough call though I don't think MSD will drop him(since he is one of his favourite guys). Still, I feel it is the best XI for India. Fingers crossed, hoping India get home the big prize below.

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  1. Freehit, I feel SRT-Viru is a better opening pair in ODIs than Viru-GG. I have certain reasons for the same, but I won't discuss them now.

    Right now, we are all looking at the team from a World Cup perspective. Keeping that in mind, it must be remembered that SRT hasn't batted at No. 3 or 4 for quite a long time (since the precious World Cup, I think!) and GG is used to batting at 3 when all of them play together.

    So in such a scenario, I would definitely go for Viru-SRT at the top with GG at 3.

    And in any case, I don't think we should have too many problems with where these batsmen will bat... because atleast they are certainties in the XI (if fit). There are some other question mark players who will provide the captain a few headaches.

  2. Actually, with this squad, I get the feeling India will stick with the 7 best batsmen (so not Yusuf) and play 2 spinners and 2 fast bowlers. So with that combination, 4 pacers in the squad seems enough, and it then makes sense to have Chawla as a back-up. There's no issue with the keeper - if MS gets injured then Parthiv can be called up ASAP.

  3. I agree with Shridhar here...Sachin-Sehwag combo is a better bet, and Gambhir can give Dravid-like solidity at one down,when the going gets rough...As for the team selection, this is the best possible team, with no major glaring omissions and shock inclusions..Chawla might have been a surprise pick, but I think he will be a passenger throughout the tournament...

  4. Guys, I know that it is unlikely that India will let GG and Viru open, because Sachin has been doing that. But, I personally feel GG-Viru understanding is way better than Viru-Sachin understanding( not that this is bad either, but still).

    @Shridhar- I shall say it again, there is NO possible way you can drop Kohli. That would be like saying- " Thanks for scoring for us, you aren't needed now". Would be as harsh as someone stabbing him. :p :)
    I hope the team isn't foolish in doing so.

    @Rishabh- The problem with bringing in Parthiv can happen if MSD's back has some sudden issues on morning of match day. Secondly, then Parthiv will be out of competitive cricket, since Ranji, Duleep and Irani trophy will be done by then. So, he will be out of practice and not in right mind frame if suddenly called. Hence, its a risk.

  5. Freehit, I'll tell you my feeling about what you refer to as Viru and GG's understanding...

    I feel that in respect of running between the wickets in LOIs, they get quite reckless sometimes. They look to take on some non-existent singles and survive because the opposition is unable to get a direct hit.

    With oppositions like SA and Eng, it might be their undoing.

    And secondly, for all his attacking game, Viru is yet to make his big mark in LOIs. He has changed the way Test cricket is played, but in ODIs, he hasn't really shown his Test-like consistency. In fact, I would stick my neck out and say that Gambhir is a better ODI opener than Sehwag since he has shown that he is quite capable of big innings (he has two 150+ scores).

    But since we need a basher at the top, we have to open with Sehwag... and Sachin is the man for playing through for a big innings. If he cannot do so, Gambhir at 3 will take up that mantle.

  6. if we go only by terms of form and match winning potential, i would drop the captain cool or gg...

    but gg would be needed to stabilize the middle order the role being handsomely done by the wall until some years ago...

    Hence, sacking the captain cool would be the only option for dhoni...

    I wish that we had the supersub rule now...

    By the way i am deeply astonished on seeing munaf patel in your XI... i mean, are you "serious" ?

    And picking ojha/sreesanth over chawla would have been a good move by selectors...


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