With the 2-0 drubbing of the Aussies, India have made the tag of the No. 1 team in tests truly theirs. Now they will look to carry forward this momentum in the limited overs version of the game as well as they prepare for the World Cup, which is now only four months away.
With the first ODI against the Aussies being washed out, India have now 12 ODI’s to be played, 7 in home conditions, before the World Cup as M.S. Dhoni and Co would be looking to put together the best possible combination for the biggest cricketing event in the world. India have a fairly settled and strong lineup; Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir being automatic choices for the top order. Two out of Yuvraj, Raina, Kohli and Rohit Sharma along with the skipper Dhoni should make up the middle order. The bowling also looks pretty decent with Praveen Kumar, Zaheer, Nehra, Ishant, Sreesanth, Harbhajan and Ojha battling out for 4 places in the starting lineup. But the real trouble for this team is the lack of a genuine all rounder coming in at No. 7. This spot has been filled by Ravindra Jadeja for the past couple of series and Yusuf Pathan before that and neither of them have done enough to cement that position.
The problem with them is that either of them wouldn’t merit a place in the team purely on the basis of batting or bowling like a Jacques Kallis or an Andrew Flintoff would have done. Both Jadeja and Pathan are what you call the bits-and-pieces players. Jadeja, who is an excellent fielder, can roll his arm and produce miserly spells and is also quite handy with the bat but he is more of a grafter and not really a destructive finisher like a No.7 ought to be. Yusuf Pathan, on the other hand, can demolish any bowling attack on his day but the consistency has been found wanting and he has also been guilty of leaking runs with the ball in the past.
Another player who will be itching for another opportunity to take the all-rounder’s slot would be Yusuf’s younger brother Irfan Pathan. If he somehow manages to find his long lost swing and pace, then he would be an automatic selection. Another strategy that Dhoni would be looking at is to play a specialist batsman at No.7 and getting 10 overs out of Sehwag, Raina and Yuvraj.
Whatever the think-tank decides, they ought to decide soon on what combination they want in the Cup and they have just 12 games to do that.