Monday, January 17, 2011


The selectors have come up with their 15... and MS Dhoni, Gary Kirsten and the team management looks like they have had a say in the final selection. Here is what the squad of 15 looks like:

MS Dhoni (c) (wk), V Sehwag (vc), S Tendulkar, G Gambhir, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, S Raina, Y Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, M Patel, P Kumar, A Nehra, R Ashwin, P Chawla.

Well, for me, the first 13 names were on the expected lines. I had assumed that Ashwin and Chawla would be discussed for the 2nd spinner's role and we will have an additional pacer.

I am not at all satisfied with Chawla's selection. Here are the reasons why (I have already enumerated these by way of comments in SP's blog):

1. Piyush Chawla has never played an ODI in India. As Cricinfo pointed out, all his 21 ODIs have been away from home. So if he plays in the World Cup, he will be making his debut in India in ODIs. It may be argued that he knows the conditions well... but I still feel that bowling at international cricketers in the middle overs of an ODI is a different art from the other experiences that Chawla must have had in India.

2. Piyush Chawla has not played an ODI for India since 2008. Even if he does play the next 3 ODIs against South Africa, I wouldn't call it a selection based on performances. Plus, all those ODIs will still be outside India!

3. Chawla has been selected as a spinner, who will be bowling in the middle overs. But from what I have last seen, Ojha would be a much better bowler in the middle overs. He is more crafty and though he may not get you many wickets in Test cricket, but in ODIs in home conditions, I would select him over Chawla on the recent viewings.

4. A lot of people have opined that Chawla is handy with the bat and in the field... and thus he got a shoo in. If this is the reasoning, then why not go for Rohit Sharma? He is a better batsman, a better fielder and even though he is a part timer, he has been bowling pretty well for India in recent ODIs. And for a bowler who is handy with the bat, we already have Harbhajan and Praveen Kumar. I am not sure why we had to pick Chawla for another one!

5. This is the MOST IMPORTANT REASON. We know India will be going with a 3 pacer + 1 spinner combo and allow part timers to do the rest. So it's baffling that we have just 1 backup for our 3 pacers and 2 backups for our 1 spinner. The numbers just don't sound good. Plus given the fact that pacers are more likely to be injured than spinners, it puts an even bigger question mark over the selection.

If the extra spinners have been selected for the reason that India may go in with a different combination (maybe 3 pacers + 2 spinners and sacrifice the place of Yusuf / Kohli), then I think it is a foolish idea.

It would have been a good idea had it been tried earlier (with or without success) and then implemented at the World Cup... because we would have had some experiences to learn from. But to try something novel straight away in a World Cup is not called "planning", it's called "gambling".

But apart from Chawla's selection, I like the look of the team. I like the fact that our replacement pacer (Munaf Patel) is in good form and has got some good overs under his belt recently. If any of our first choice pacers were to underperform or get injured, our replacement should not give us too many headaches. But if two of our pacers were to underperform or injure themselves, then God help Team India!

In our batting lineup, contrary to many other opinions, I have a feeling that Yusuf Pathan will play ahead of Virat Kohli. I know Virat is in tremendous form, but the reasons why Yusuf could get in ahead are:

1. Yusuf Pathan can bowl very decent and wicket to wicket brand of off-spin during the middle overs, whereas Virat's dibbly-dobbly bowling may not work in Indian conditions.

2. Yusuf has experience batting low down the order, whereas Virat has been tried out mainly at No. 3. Since our top-3 are packed and there is little scope of coming in at 4 or 5, Virat's chances look slimmer to me.

3. Raina and Yuvraj may bowl out the 5th bowler's quota... but they may not be able to cover up for another regular bowler who has a bad day. But with Yusuf in the squad, India can give a little more comfort space for the main bowlers.

4. Yusuf's biggest drawback in recent times has been his inability to play the short balls. But in Indian conditions, this problem will be mitigated. For sure, there will be a few good short balls bowled to him when he comes in. But even the best fast bowlers will find it difficult to sustain a lengthy peppering of short balls to Pathan in India. And when the length is not short enough, those balls become long hops and we all know what Yusuf Pathan can do with those!

So here's my first XI:

Virender Sehwag
Sachin Tendulkar
Gautam Gambhir
Yuvraj Singh
Suresh Raina
MS Dhoni (c) (wk)
Yusuf Pathan
Harbhajan Singh
Praveen Kumar
Zaheer Khan
Ashish Nehra

It's very reminiscent of the team India had for World Cup 2003. The same opening pair - both in batting and in bowling (assuming that Nehra opens the bowling with Zaheer). The same spinner also, and a very similar middle order. On the whole, this team is more attacking in terms of shot-making than the one we had in 2003. But the question is: CAN IT GO ONE BETTER?


Freehit said...

You are absolutely spot-on with the reasons that you have stated about Piyush Chawla's inclusion.

Particularly agree with point #5. India should have really used taken an extra pacer or maybe even extra batsmen.

We will play 7 batsmen for sure and surprised that we have picked just 8, with Viru, GG and Sachin, all three not exactly 100%.

But, I am cent percent sure, that Kohli will start before Yusuf. You just can't drop a person with so many runs of late. You just can't. If they have to then might have to drop Raina instead.

Unknown said...

I know dropping Virat will be difficult. But dropping Raina also means losing those crucial few overs that he can bowl.

I think that if Virat is dropped, it will also keep the others (i.e. Yuvraj and Raina) on their toes... if their underperform for 2-3 matches, Virat is in.

Anonymous said...

Yusuf Pathan must be licking his lips, at the prospect of playing in home conditions..thats where he thrives the best, and I expect some blazing innings from him...
As for Kohli/Raina, I would go for Raina, as he has bigger shots and will most likely be required towards the fag end of the innings..unlike Kohli, who is more in the mould of a Dravid or Gambhir, who needs time to settle down and play a big innings (I'm not even gonna consider his performances at the IPL, here)

Unknown said...

likeatracerbullet, the interesting thing about your comment is that you have Yusuf Pathan in your starting XI, with Raina and Kohli fighting for a spot.

Most people think it would be Yusuf vs Kohli for a spot with Raina a tentative certainty.