“Don’t forget that you are playing in India, the spinners play a very major role on the spinning tracks. I’m confident that with the kind of balance we have, the kind of batting line up we have, this cricket team led by MS Dhoni & others will do the job for us!”, said a visibly beaming Krishnamachari Srikkanth while talking to the reporters after the meeting.
The inclusion of three spinners in the 15 member squad for the world cup may have been a bold decision but is a sign for other teams about what to expect in the Indian subcontinent, this spring. As expected, Harbhajan Singh is the senior most spinner in the team but the surprise inclusion has been that of Ravichandran Ashwin & Piyush Chawla, who were preferred over a consistent Pragyan Ojha & Amit Mishra. The former justifies the inclusion by banking on some recent impressive performances while for the latter this is nothing less than a new lease of life for his cricketing career. With just a couple of spots up for grabs, Ashwin’s ability to hold a tight line during crunch situations, power play and slog overs certainly helped his case. And moreover he is no mug with the bat too! Chawla’s inclusion may have been a surprise for many but i guess a few could have seen it coming. The variety he offers as a leg spinner is more than welcome and with the vibrancy of his youth saw him being preferred over Mishra. Chawla’s ability to perform at the big stage was seen by his impressive performances in the U-19 World cup including against the arch rivals Pakistan. This may have been in the back of the mind of the selectors as well as the King’s XI management who went quiet far in the bidding to get him.
The selectors showed optimism by selecting Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir & Praveen Kumar with a belief that they’ll get fit for the world cup with time in hand.(these four players are missing the ongoing one day series in South Africa due to injury.)
Along with the 3 spinners , the selectors went in with 7 batsmen, 4 pacers and Yusuf Pathan being the lone genuine all rounder. The selectors continued to show faith in him, as he can be a match winner on his given day and can chip in with his more than useful off-spinners. The batting line up looks familiar with Mahendra Singh Dhoni leading the side and being the lone wicket keeper. He is followed by Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli. By going with 3 spinners in a 15 man squad, Rohit Sharma had to face the axe who failed to impress the selectors. He had been very inconsistent despite of being provided with ample opportunities. Murali Vijay too was over looked and the selector once again emphasized on the importance of consistency rather than performing in patches!
The pace attack is spearheaded by Zaheer Khan, and he shares the responsibility with Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel & Praveen Kumar. The trio has justified the selection with their impressive performance in the limited over internationals, over the last 12 months. Among the ones who were overlooked are Ishant Sharma and S. Sreesanth. Sharma may blame it on losing his ability to extract bounce from the track and the famous in-swing of his which has troubled many. On a personal front, the decision to overlook Sreesanth despite his impressive performance in the recently concluded test series may be accounted to the fact that the selectors are looking to create a healthy team environment and are trying to avoid controversies in a tournament where India is expected to go a long way. Moreover on a technical view front, his economy and strike rate in the ODI’s has been far from impressive.
“This is the best possible winning combination we have picked up which will win us the world cup. We (selectors) engaged in a thorough discussion at the meeting here before finalising the squad“, said a confident Srikkanth. “Taking into account all the conditions like wicket, the oppositions we will be playing, the selectors have selected a very well balanced team”, he went on to add.
The team is more or less familiar apart from a couple of faces. And the selectors are quite confident of their selection. ”this particular team has been performing very well both in tests and ODI’s for the last couple of years, not only in India but abroad too. We are confident that this team will win us the world cup in front of our home crowd! Despite the pressure of playing in the Indian sub-continent we are confident that this team will repeat the feat achieved in 1983!” said the chief selector.
With the clock ticking away, only time will tell us the story but with the confident selectors and players with a loved coach, ‘Team India’ looks a very happy and a united family that makes a lot of promises at this moment! The icing on the cake can be an impressive show in the ODI series in South Africa. The Midas of Indian cricket would only be smiling at this moment with a hope that his honeymoon with lady luck continues!