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Monday, January 24, 2011

World Cup 2011 - Dhoni has questions answered after SAF ODIs

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide OvalConfident of lower-order 
Yusuf Pathan tried his best but that was not supported well by his colleagues other than Zaheer Khan. India was probably not as hungry as South Africa for the series win. But, MS Dhoni had a different take on it - he was positive as ever and sought to see the silver lining from the loss:

The biggest positive out of this game is that when we go into the World Cup, we will know that in the last 10 overs we can chase anything if we have wickets in hand. That lesson is more important than just the loss of the game.

That is the confidence Dhoni has got from his lower-order batsmen, going to the ICC World Cup. Without four of first-choice players, the Indian team did well to get to the final game with a good choice of winning a rare series in South Africa. They managed to ask various questions to the young Protean team but in the bargain answered couple of their questions as well (even though some more questions popped up!)

The Indian eleven for the World Cup games will read this:
Sehwag, Tendulkar, Gambhir, Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, P1, P2, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, P3.

P1 and P2 will be two of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina. Yuvraj has been performing well with the ball (more than the bat, in fact) while Kohli is in great form and is a definite asset on sub-continent conditions (especially when chasing a big score). Suresh Raina is also good on the same conditions and can bowl during the slog overs but his form is not great of late. Who will be dropped from this trio, remains to be seen.

The batting order also seems to be an issue of concern - Dhoni is the No.1 batsman in the ODIs but he comes down very low in the lineup - he tried to come up in the last ODI against SAF but couldnt contribute much. If Kohli plays, he should be at No.4 - if not, Dhoni should play at that slot. Yuvraj and Pathan should round off the No. 6 and 7 slots for they are capable of tearing up the bowling in the slog overs. Kirsten and Dhoni should also look at the option of sending them as pinch-hitters to make use of the batting PowerPlays.

P3 will be either Piyush Chawla in the beginning of the tournament (or Ashwin in the latter stages as a surprise selection to out-smart the opponents) if the pitch or opposition is made for an extra spinner. Similarly, if the need for a third pace bowler arises, Munaf Patel will make a comeback to the squad. Ashish Nehra's bad series will see him being the fourth-choice bowler in the World Cup. Selecting Patel and Nehra in the same eleven not only depletes the fielding, the batting strength also goes down a notch. Praveen has shown that he can be depended upon by being a safe bet with the bat.   
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