Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Indian Squad for the World Cup

The Indian squad of 15 for the World Cup will be announced on 12 February. This is our prediction:

1. Rahul Dravid (captain)
2. Sachin Tendulkar (vice-captain)
3. Virender Sehwag
4. Robin Uthappa
5. Saurav Ganguly
6. Yuvraj Singh
7. Dinesh Karthik
8. Mahendra Dhoni
9. Irfan Pathan
10. Ajit Agarkar
11. Zaheer Khan
12. Munaf Patel
13. Harbhajan Singh
14. Anil Kumble

We think these fourteen players are certainties, based on the comments and behaviour of the Captain, the Selectors, and the BCCI's Officers. We therefore see no point in trying to justify our selection - this is simple deduction and elimination based on widely available information (We will however be happy to comment if we are proven wrong). This leaves only one genuinely open slot, which could go to any of the following: a middle order batsman, a spin bowler, or a seam bowler.

The batting candidates are Suresh Raina, Mohammad Kaif, Gautam Gambhir, and just possibly, VVS Laxman. The first two are excellent fielders and would be able to contribute as substitutes and 12th men even when not in the playing 11, which works to their advantage. VVS Laxman is in the running for one reason - any team that hopes to win the World Cup must be able to beat Australia, and if there's one batsman who has shown an ability to consistently score big against Australia, it's Laxman. But his fielding will count against him. There are already too many slow batsmen in the squad.

Alternatively, an additional bowler could be chosen. If it's a seamer, it has to be Sreesanth, our leading strike-bowler in Test matches at present. If it's a spinner, it will be the off-spinner Ramesh Powar.

India's ideal eleven, Dravid has often said, consists of five bowlers. With Dhoni keeping, there are already 7 batsman in the squad competing for 5 spaces. On the bowling side, it's 6 bowlers competing for five spaces. Given the limited bowling options, India is likely to pick an additional bowler.

The above list offers four seam-bowlers, and two spinners. India mostly play only one specialist spinner, sometimes two, and never three. Ramesh Powar is unlikely to get a game if he was in the squad. On the other hand, an additional seamer could well feature - 4 seamers playing together have been seen in recent Indian squads, and if any of the present 4 got injured or was out of form, there would be no alternative available. Unless we picked an additional seamer.

The 15th player will be Sreesanth.

15. S Sreesanth