Selectors unlikely to spring surprises in World Cup squad

Sunday, January 16, 2011

CHENNAI - Sachin Tendulkar’s hamstring injury about four weeks ahead of the World Cup is indeed a cause of concern, but given the time in hand, the selection committee meeting here Monday to pick the World Cup squad would be hoping the maestro would be fit for the tournament commencing in the sub-continent Feb 19.

The Indian ODI squad currently touring South Africa is a definite pointer to the squad to be picked and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has provided sufficient indications to believe that barring a couple of changes, the team for the World Cup would be much the same.

“One performance will not matter. Guys who have worked hard for the last year-and-a-half may get a chance.

“I think for the World Cup, fight is on for just one or two position as rest of the players will choose themselves,” Dhoni had said before the second ODI against South Africa.

Perhaps, the only debate, if at all, would be around the composition of the bowling attack in terms of number of spinners as against the seamers as the batting line-up is more or less settled.

With Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself filling the batting slots, the other certainties would be Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra.

That would leave only three spots be filled up to complete the 15 out of the 30 probables that the BCCI had announced. The likes of Praveen Kumar (subject to fitness clearance) and Ravichandran Ashwin have more or less clinched their positions and that would mean a choice among seamers S. Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma, and all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, always a handy player in the shorter version of the game besides opener Murali Vijay.

Also in the equation is wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel who is flying to South Africa as a replacement for Tendulkar, but since neither Sehwag nor Gambhir are available, the Baroda stumper’s role, if he reaches South Africa in time, would be to partner Vijay at the top of the order.

Not to be discounted are spinners Piyush Chawla, Pragyan Ojha, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra. Given the fact that World Cup is to be played on the sub-continental pitches, the selectors will keepn in mind the effectiveness of a spinner. But then, with Yuvraj, Rohit Sharma and Raina as available slow bowling options, it remains to be seen whether the selectors would like to pack the side with any more spinners.

If anything, the selectors would probably spend more time on debating the “fringe” players as it is unlikely they would be keen on disturbing an otherwise settled combination. But given the selection committee’s track record, there could yet be a new spin to the squad of 15.

The likely squad:

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yusuf Pathan/S.Sreesanth/Murali Vijay.

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