Sunday, May 30, 2010



I have a feeling that Dhoni will prefer Yusuf over Jadeja... though I would prefer otherwise. Despite his torrid performances lately, I still find Jadeja as a much safer slow bowling option... particularly in 50-over cricket. Plus, he will turn the ball away from the right-hander, which should complement well with Harbhajan's off-spin. There are arguements for including Yusuf for his batting abilities. But then, all those abilities come to nought the moment he faces up to a pacer. And batting at No. 7, he is bound to face pacers at all times. Even if he is promoted up the order, the opposition captains will bring their pacers in immediately. His tryst with the short deliveries has been well noted and documented. Yusuf could not even get his bat to touch the ball on the last 2 balls of India's innings against Zimbabwe because they were bowled short by a certain medium pacer by the name of Mpofu. Imagine the damage that can be caused by a Dale Steyn or a Mitchell Johnson.

Coming to the bowling department now. The team is likely to go in with 3 pacers and a lone spinner in the form of Harbhajan Singh. The pacers are likely to be Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar. There is a small question mark over Zaheer's form and a larger one over Praveen Kumar's place in the side. Though I am not particularly worried about Zaheer Khan, the third pacer's spot is certainly a cause of worry for MS Dhoni. He does not want his first change bowler to become a target for the opposition's top order... a bowler that will release the pressure after the new ball spell. There are several boys who will be eyeing Praveen Kumar's place: Vinay Kumar, S Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma... and many others. But I am not sure about any of them. It is quite possibly the weakest link of the squad.

As you might have noted... there is hardly anything similar between the ideal Team India for the World Cup and the team that lost to Zimbabwe. Suresh Raina... that's just about it. But the guys like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik and Vinay Kumar are likely to be the other members of the 15-men squad... the replacements in case of injuries, losses of form or commitment issues. And that is where the greater problem lies.

Are they good enough? Bobilli Vijay Kumar, in his article in Times of India titled 'Second String or Second Class?' ponders upon this issue. Maybe a Rohit Sharma will manage a 100 against a Zimbabwe and a Virat Kohli may do slightly better by hitting a 100 against Sri Lanka, but when they are under pressure... a knockout stage of a World Cup... a team as strong as Australia... backs to the wall situation... will they be able to deliver? They have done nothing so far to show that they can.

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