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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Indian team at the World Cup

India's World Cup campaign has been affected recently by the selection issues of Viru Sehwag and Irfan Pathan has raised quite a few eyebrows (including some in the Selection Committee). Anyone who has played for the country, is in demand for his views on what are the team's chances, how they will fare against the other countries, what they have to take care in order to reduce their risks. The marketing men are leaving no stone unturned to make the extra buck in the year of the Cricket World Cup. But, what makes the Men In Blue?

Rahul Dravid is the Wall of Indian cricket as always, both in tests and ODIs. He has shown that he can not only be there in a crisis situation, but if required can wield the long handle as well. His captaincy is maturing, after the losses in the West Indies and South Africa. Good slip fielder as well. He is one of the steady batsmen in a lineup of stroke-players and hence, he must be solid as ever for his team's success.

Sachin Tendulkar is playing in his 5th World Cup (only Javed Miandad managed to play 6) and must be wishing that he would get a chance to go out on a high (with a World Cup win). He has been asked to come down the order, to take care of the middle overs (very crucial in the World Cup scenario).

Sourav Ganguly - the Comeback Prince. He has been batting really well after his comeback, in fact better than ever before. He would be expected to don the role of the opening batsmen alongwith Sehwag or Uthappa. His bowling would be vital for the fifth bowler's slot (which can help cover his weak fielding abilities).

Viru Sehwag - How many chances will he get? The 2 warm-up matches and 2 matches against the minnows will give a check-point on his current form. He will definitely play in the match against Sri Lanka also but beyond these 5 matches, if he does not score a couple of 50s atleast, its very unlikely that he will play in the Super 8s.

Robin Uthappa is the unknown factor in the Indian team (not to the Sri Lankans or the Caribbeans). He must learn to capitalize on his starts and build longer innings. He is the fall-back option for the Indians in case Sehwag continues his poor form.

Yuvraj Singh has shown that he has recovered from his injury during the recent series against the Lankans. He will be the key factor for the middle overs alongwith SRT and Rahul. As he has shown in various matches, he can notch up a gear when required, to give the push to the scoring rate. The experience during India's tour last year, will give him an added advantage. He is also the leader of the Indian team, in the fielding areas and must show the way for the others with his electric displays.

MS Dhoni will be playing his first World Cup. He must be eagerly waiting to showcase his skills at this big tournament. If he plays well, India will reach the semi-finals easily. As Greg Chappell mentioned at the start of his stint, he can be considered as one of a kind for the Indian team (find of the century was what Greg mentioned).

Dinesh Karthik - a late entry to the team, who has proved that he is just not another reserve wicket-keeper. He can be considered in case any of the senior players are injured and hence would not be present in the starting line-up for most matches. But he would be seen on the field as he is a very good fielder and would be the ideal substitute.

Anil Kumble would be the first preference in this World Cup, compared to the last one in South Africa. He would be a key component of the Indian bowling lineup. His fielding in the deep is useful, if not great. Should be willing to put in the last great performance to end on a high.

Harbhajan Singh has been bowling well in the ODIs this season, but has to fight it out with Kumble for the spinner's slot (as it is very rare that the Indians will play 2 spinners). Useful with the bat also.

Ajit Agarkar, by his performances in the previous tour to the WI, picks himself as the frontline bowler. His batting can be useful, if he applies his mind to it.

Zaheer Khan is the other opening bowler, on a roll since he made his comeback to international cricket. His batting has picked up - as has his fielding also.

Munaf Patel would be ideally the third seamer in the team. He has been the lead bowler in recent times, both in terms of economy and strike-rates. Coming back from injury, it would be a good idea to give him only 1-2 of the initial 4 matches so that he remains fresh for the Sri Lanka match.

Irfan Pathan, on the other hand, should be given all the first 4 matches to get back near his form. Once he gets his indippers working, he can show how dangerous a bowler he can be. His batting is top-class and can contribute as a pinch-hitter, if required.

S Sreesanth would be lucky if he gets many chances. Again, seems to have been selected in case the frontline attack get injured. But, he has shown that he can lead the attack, if need be.
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