Indian team for the World Cup

I have been procrastinating. I should have posted this as soon as they announced the team, but maybe it is a good thing that I did not. I got some time to think about the team and here are my thoughts.

First of all, in my books, the following players (based on current and recent past form) select themselves:

1. Saurav Ganguly
2. Sachin Tendulkar
3. Zaheer Khan
4. Rahul Dravid
5. MS Dhoni

The following were almost certain and my reasons for them not being 100%:

6. Ajit Agarkar: Seems to be a bit inconsistent, but has been in form recently
7. Harbajan Singh: He should actually not be in the team, but has a great vote of confidence from the captain apparently
8. Anil Kumble: He should be in the team for sure, but he has no faith from anyone except the captain
9. S Sreesanth: Has been in good form in the tests, but has been completely off in the one day games. Fundamentally he is good enough to be considered a lock.
10. Munaf Patel: He is a very good one day bowler but his recent injury drama in South Africa made me re-think my position on his being a lock.
11. Yuvraj Singh: He would be a lock before his bad injury layoff, but now I have my doubts but from the last game of the Sri Lanka series he seems to have come back to form.

So in my books, there are 11 players who almost certainly are selected in the team. 4 batsmen, 1 wicket-keeper and 6 bowlers including 2 different spinners and at least 3 part time bowlers.

What’s obviously missing is a good opener in case the team decides to stick with pushing Sachin down to the middle order. Robin Uthapa has been in good form at the top and would be included. So that makes it 5 batsmen, 1 wicket-keeper and 6 bowlers.

Now, there’s got to be a couple of middle order batsmen and maybe 1 extra bowler.

In Dinesh Karthick, we get two for the price of one. We get a decent bat and a decent backup wicket-keeper. I would imagine he would be playing some games and will not be a pure passenger on the tour.

So it comes down to one middle order batsman and 1 extra bowler needed. Given that Sachin and Yuvraj can spin the ball part-time, and given the experience of Anil Kumble and the mythical guile that Bajji brings, a spinner would not be needed. Ramesh Powar, sorry, but there is just no space for you in the team. Blame it on Bajji.

Among the pace bowlers, having Pathan at bowler #5 is quite an embarrassment of riches, if he gets back to any sort of form. And because no one else like RP Singh or VRV Singh has played enough in the recent past, I think Pathan would become the default choice.

Which brings me to the last spot – of a middle order bat. There’s a lot of talent which can take the spot – Kaif, Raina, VVS, Sehwag. My choice would have been VVS Laxman, but I think Dilip Vengsarkar just does not believe in his fielding ability. VVS is the type of guy who can come in at 101-1 or 14-3 and play his normal game in either situation and score 60 in 65 balls without any pressure at all.

So my team would match the selectors’ choice except for two:

1. Ganguly
2. Uthapa
3. VVS (instead of Sehwag)
4. Sachin
5. Dravid
6. Yuvi
7. Dhoni
8. Agarkar
9. Powar (instead of Bajji)
10. Zaheer
11. Patel

12. Pathan
13. Kumble
14. Karthick
15. Sreesanth

This team is not going to be the best fielding team without Kaif, Raina and maybe even Karthick in the close-in field but it is good enough to win the match with bat and ball.

I do believe we are still one batsman short and maybe instead of Pathan, we could choose an extra batsman. But I do believe defense win championships and it is better to load up the team with backup bowlers just in case there is an injury or two, than to go with high class batting backups which may not be enough to win matches.

If the team gets its chemistry together, I have confidence that they would make it to the semis. My thoughts on India’s and others’ winning chances in a later post.

Cross posted at Desicritics.org

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10 thoughts on “Indian team for the World Cup

  1. RPM says:

    @rajesh: Yes, from football and basketball. But isn’t it true? Australia scored 400+ but they still lost! On the other hand, in 1983, India scored 183 and still won! :-)Defense not only includes the good bowling but more importantly, good fielding which can cause wickets to fall in a hurry.

  2. After winning the first ODI recently, Jayawardene made an interesting comment (maybe, there is a Tom Moody in that thought?). That in one day games, when you are defending totals, you will often find a good partnership from the opposite side, almost as if they are running away with the game. The important thing at such times, is to not panic. Just hang in there. One wicket, and the tide could just turn. Which happened in that game, I believe.. How many captains get this really? Drooping shoulders, over-experimentation, etc. happen often, in such situations..

  3. It’s already well-known that team has several people who are 30+ and we would have to score 30 more runs to make up for fielding etc etc. Does this sound like Pakistan @ 2003 WC? The greats are past their prime (enen though you can argue that they are playing well). So I do not expect the team to go extra mile to make it through semis. I would stop at expecting decent “super-6” performance for the Indian team…

  4. RPM says:

    @spm: There’s not too many teams/captains with such attitude. Unfortunately, I think India is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I would say SL, Australia (lesser of late) and Pakistan are the teams with the true never-say-die attitude. Can’t count them out till the last ball is bowled.

  5. RPM says:

    @samir: Super 6 is almost a given. If they go from there, it is semis and in the semis it is a question of performing well on one day. And I am betting that given that chance, this team can do it. Yes, we have to assume 30 extra runs should come from the oldies for the fielding issues, but remember, we are actually quite strong in the bowling department. If we keep the discipline (I still remember the WC final from South Africa 😦 😦 )

  6. The WC final in 2003 was just taken away by a phenomenal counter attack by Ponting. He is a true big game player, and he hustled his way and got our bowlers into quiet submission. They never recovered. Hopefully, we can be the aggressor this time (a Saurav-da special, or a Sachin prime-time show?), or that our bowlers now have a little more confidence in their own abilities? As regards the never-say-die, I would rate Pak, SA and Aus up there, on that factor. SL after that, because they don’t quite have a tail that has delivered the goods to that extent. On a day, others can also do exactly that. The recent NZ efforts – at least the last 2 games – were of that type. Then again, the WI win in the ICC trophy in England, was an amazing performance. But those are ‘one good day’ efforts. Not a serious character trait!

  7. RPM says:

    @spm: I would rather forget the WC final – first of all, it was a nightmare as an India fan, and second of all it was 4 years back and things have changed since then. SL does not have a great tail, but they have players who never give up. Vaas, even though he is not considered a true all rounder, can actually bat well enough in some other batsman’s company to take SL all the way. Same way with some of their bowlers (sorry, can’t name them – too confusing) who can hang around just to make something out of a nothing game and turn it around to make it a win. Of course, SL can turn on the screws in multiple ways on defense – with their bowling, in multiple forms, and of course their terrific fielding.

  8. SL – I know what you mean.They will have a Dilshan bowling a tight spell out of nowhere, or a Jayasuriya coming up and bowling an amazing spell, picking up wickets too. Or an inspired Russell Arnold coming out of nowhere and banging a quickfire 45 with tailenders and clinching a win. How are they so different from the other two big guys in the sub-continent? They don’t seem to have any serious political problems with regards to the team, the selections, etc.??

  9. RPM says:

    @spm: SL has not been without controversies – but nowhere close to India/Pakistan. Not sure what is the cultural difference there.

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