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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

2015 World Cup - India's preparations so far

The Indians finished their preparations for the World Cup with a loss in the final ODI at Perth as well as the teaser for their uniform they will display (on top of the MCG).

There are couple of warm-up matches scheduled before the tournament starts officially, against Australia (8th Feb) and Afghanistan (10th Feb) at Adelaide. These two matches will serve the purpose of testing out the four players who are in doubt for the tournament (fitness issues) - Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. There are doubts about Ishant but only MSD will know what is real. Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni who went for the tri-series are still with the team as per the latest news.

So, where are we in terms of preparations? Let us go through the team and see the plans that the Indian team might have:

  1. Shikhar Dhawan - definitely will play the warm-up matches and first two ODIs (Pakistan at Adelaide and South Africa at MCG). Based on his performance, his future will be decided. Dhawan did well at Perth against a decent England bowling attack - a knock that will give him confidence going into the tournament.
  2. Rohit Sharma - he will play as the opener whenever he is fit. It will be good to give him a work-out in the warm-up matches but will be key to the current team's fortunes.
  3. Ajinkya Rahane - Back-up opener but could also potentially come one-down in case of an early wicket. He is much more technically sound than Rayudu and hence he will be the backup for No.3 slot
  4. Virat Kohli - Dhoni seems to like Kohli lower the order in case Jadeja (or Ashwin or Binny) does not play. But, on initial look, it is certain that Kohli will be at No.3 when there is a good partnership at the top. Will he be always at No.3? Probably not (especially when a wicket falls early)
  5. Suresh Raina - Raina has done well in recent times though the Tri-series saw just one good knock from him. Raina can be ideal to play in the latter overs and statistics also point that Dhoni is a better bet ahead of Raina. Will Dhoni come in to stabilize the innings while Raina is held back to blast the attack?  
  6. Dhoni - The captain has not shown glimpses of his usual form recently. Will be good for him to have a break before he comes back to his own. His impending baby will also clear his mind for good. 
  7. Rayudu - If Dhawan has to be dropped, Rahane goes up the order and Rayudu comes in his place. Hence, he will not be in the starting lineup but will be expected to play as soon as he gets an opportunity. Tough luck for the lad!
  8. Binny - Stuart Binny has been the biggest bright spot to emerge out of India's performance in the tri-series. It is a no-brainer for Binny to be in the playing eleven. This gives India the luxury of playing two seamers and two spinners with Binny/Raina to bowl the other ten. He can open the bowling and shore the batting.
  9. Jadeja/Ashwin - Jadeja has been rusty and hence he will be the biggest beneficiary of the warm-up matches. If he can recover to his prime form, India will have one less headache. Ashwin has gone down in the pecking order, lower than Axar because of his lack  of wickets in the ODI version. Though he is a better batsman than Axar, his fielding is a cause of worry.
  10. Axar Patel - Axar bowled well in the Tri-series, showing that his performance on sub-continental pitches was not a fluke. He is a handy player only if he can lift his batting skills
  11. Mohd Shami - Easily the best pace bowler on view in the Tri-series, Shami has been enjoying the stint in the shorter version after a mixed test series. He will lead the attack in the absence of Ishant (due to injury) but his performance will reflect on India's fortunes with the ball.
  12. Ishant/Bhuvi/Umesh - Bhuvi should partner Shami in the Adelaide match to make use of the new ball but if Ishant is present, he might get the nod. If the pitches are helpful to the faster bowlers, expect Bhuvi and Ishant to be both present. Umesh Yadav has not shown any semblance of form and he is an insurance for the squad at this time.

With this situation, India will go into each match with an open mind and flexible plans to counter any situation. With the cool Dhoni at the helm, let us wish the Indian team all the best!

Do have a look at the 50 ODI victories that redefined Indian cricket.
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