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The World Cup is just around the corner and now the various selection panels around the world are nutting out the teams they will be taking. India seemed to have solved a lot of the problems that have hampered them in the recent past. The batting seems to be firing on tracks which Geoffrey Boycotts grand mother could score runs on and the bowlers are doing a terrific job on pitches which are like a bowler’s grave yard.
Although India’s recent form has been great, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The fact is that when faced with a slow and low track, the batting failed miserably. What makes this even more significant is that most of the pitches being used in this World Cup are newly laid and newly laid pitches are usually slow and low due to the young root structure of the pitches.
That aside, the batting has looked good on the flat tracks been offered. Virender Sehwag would be bitterly disappointed at missing out against the West Indies as he was without doubt certain to snap his lean patch on one of these tracks. Yet in his place Ganguly and Robin Uthappa have made the most of it, Gambhir could have done a little more in Chennai and due to that will probably miss a seat to the World Cup. Uthappa seems to be just as aggressive as Sehwag if not more. The difference between him and Sehwag though was that he was able to cash in on his starts and not throw it away with soft poke at a ball outside the off stump.
In my opinion, Sehwag is a vital member of the Indian team and has to play a major part of India wants to have any chances of winning the World Cup. With this in mind, I would find a spot for him in the middle order. If the team management so desperately wants Tendulkar in the middle order as well, then he and Sehwag should occupy the number 3 and 4 spots.
Dravid is the ideal number 5 batsmen followed by Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. Although Yuvraj might not look so good at the moment, it is only a matter of time before he comes good. He is a great all round option and his field is simply electrifying. Not much more needs to be said about Dhoni, he is simply unbelievable.
With the slow and low tracks in the Windies, two spinners must be played. The plain cold hard facts are that Harbhajan Singh was India’s best ODI bowler last year, he seems to excel when Kumble is not around, maybe because he feels under less pressure. With this in mind he should be told that his place in the side is secure and I am sure it will do him a world of good. Now we are left with two fast bowling spots. Zaheer Khan is an automatic selection which leaves one spot to be filled between Agarkar, Sreesanth and Patel.
The general consensus is that Sreesanth doesn’t seem to have that same magnificent control over the white ball as he did with the red cherry in South Africa. In the recent series he was not only expensive but also failed to take wickets. What people fail to understand is that in South Africa he was playing on green tops while in India he was playing on roads, it does make it a bit difficult.
Patel needs to be given all four games against Sri Lanka to prove his fitness and form. He too was a fine bowler before he suffered his spate of injuries. I really think that both these two should get a look in before Agarkar.
If I was Chief Selector, this would be my squad:
Dravid, Tendulkar, Dhoni, Sehwag, Ganguly, Uthappa, Yuvraj, Raina, Harbhajan, Kumble, Zaheer, Sreesanth, Agarkar, Patel, Pathan.
The two most debatable positions there would be of Raina and Pathan. I think that Raina is a quality batsmen and a quality fielder, better than Dinesh Karthik. Pathan on the other hand just gives the squad balance. He is a genuine all rounder and I am sure he will come good soon. He started off his come back by taking 7 wickets against Mumbai, the good times are just around the corner.
With this team, India will give any team a run for their money, even Australia. It is just a matter of turning the potential on paper into performances in the World Cup.
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