India wins the World Cup squad naming race
Assuming that squad announcements by Ireland, Netherlands and Scotland don't really matter, India are the first major cricketing side to announce the 15-member squad for the 2007 World Cup
The squad isn't worth arguing about. It's quite predictable, which isn't a bad thing in itself, come to think of it.
In alphabetical order of last name, it reads: Ajit Agarkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Rahul Dravid (c), Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik (wk?), Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, S Sreesanth, Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Uthappa, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh.
Sreesanth is in, after missing out on the ICC Champions Trophy
last year, despite his horrendous run in one-day cricket. Perhaps his showing yesterday at Rajkot against Sri Lanka
saved him from being axed.
The selectors have taken a few gambles. There're four possible opening batsmen, with Ganguly set to be a fixture at the top. With Tendulkar doing quite well in his middle-order role, Sehwag will have to compete with Uthappa for the opener's slot. Uthappa has been inconsistent (86, 12, 0, 70, 28, 7), averages 34 and has a frightening strike rate. That description fits Sehwag too! There're at least 4 horrible fielders (Ganguly, Sehwag, Munaf and Kumble). That's four too many for a side which aims at winning a World Cup. There're at least 3 bowlers from whom anything more than 5 runs per game is a bonus (Sreesanth, Kumble and Munaf). Once again, that's three too many!
Yuvraj, Agarkar and Pathan are as yet unfit. But given there're 3 weeks to go before India's warm-up game against the Netherlands on March 6
, those are reasonable bets worth taking. But they could be really short of match-practice and a lot will depend on their performances in the two warm-up games.
Outside of this 15, the only ones with a semblance of a chance to be picked were Raina, Powar and Kaif. Kaif and Powar should feel particularly hard done by. Almost everytime they've had an opportunity, they've done reasonably well. If I had to make one change, I'd pick Powar instead of Sreesanth. Even on the smaller grounds in the Caribbean, Powar's more likely to get wickets compared to Sreesanth, who doesn't know what length to bowl in one-day cricket. If the newly relaid pitches in the West Indies aren't going to help fast bowlers, which is very likely to be the case, Sreesanth could be a liability. In addition, India needs someone
who can rival Chris Gayle in the 'cool dude' stakes.
Dinesh Karthik and Sourav Ganguly must be pinching themselves. Until as late as 3 months ago, neither would have been close to selection. But a combination of several factors, including their brilliant ability to make the best of the situations that fell into their lap, have ensured that they're on the plane. It's in fact wrong to mark Dinesh Karthik as a reserve wicket-keeper. He's in the side as a middle-order batsman. He's impressed just about everytime he's gone out to bat in the last 2-3 months. He has the ability to score at close to a run-a-ball and hit a few boundaries. For a wicket-keeper, he's one of India's best outfielders.
My predicted XI for India's first league game, against Bangladesh on 17 March (11 years after I was the lone person in a hostel TV room in Singapore watching Sri Lanka beat Australia at Lahore), in batting order, is: Ganguly, Uthappa, Dravid, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Kumble, Munaf. Unless Sehwag impresses in the warm-ups (Netherlands and West Indies), I can't see how he can get in as a middle-order player (especially when Dinesh Karthik has done more than enough to justify being picked in that slot) or as an opener (if Uthappa does well in the warm-ups too).
I started writing this, saying that there wasn't too much to argue. Now, proof-reading it, I get the feeling there's quite a lot to argue about. So, "I declare the arguments OPEN!"
Labels: 2007 world cup, india, squad, world cup, world cup squads