Sunday, March 04, 2007

World Cup Series -- Team India

The old warriors Ganguly & Kumble are back in the team. The Indian team now sports a mix of fresh minds & rich experience. Then there is 'Big 3' of Sachin, Ganguly & 'Wall' Dravid combining powers with the swashbuckling Sehwag & the rollicking Dhoni. Is this team capable enough to bring home the world cup? An inexperienced bowling attack combined with the 'Old' warriors who will be prove to be liabilities in fielding will act as the undoing for this otherwise talented team. Expect India to crash out after the 'Super 8' stage.

1) Strong batting lineup
2) Mix of experience & fresh legs
3) The 'Big 3'

1) An inexperienced bowling attack that will wither away under pressure
2) Fielding
3) A listless Sehwag & Pathan

Position after Super 8 stage:
5 or 6(Five or six)

The squad:
Rahul Dravid (Captain), Ajit Agarkar, Mahendra Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Uthappa

Expert Speaks: Vamsi's Take

Last Man Standing!

This seems to be story of the upcoming world cup wherein the hype surrounding the "most prestigious one-day tournament on the cricketing calendar" is going to be marred by the ability of each team to stand their best 11 on the field throughout the tour. All the teams are plagued either by injuries, out-of-form players or surprise retirements, which in turn ensured some drastic last minute changes. Most of the teams are now destined to fight for the world cup with either second-rated teams or with overaged individuals, and the selection criteria for each team is not based on talent and form, but rather on lack of options.

It wasn't long ago that team India was run by Greg Chappell's theory of engineering the young blood to take up the mantle and the experience of Dravid and Sachin to guide them through before they move into the realms of retirment. The idea was to ensure that a well-nurtured young team has the potential to sustain injuries and it also improves the fielding department, but that back-fired for a lot of valid reasons. And now, we enter the world cup with a team that is loaded with experienced individuals, most of whom will be playing their last World cup, and most of whom are carrying their injuries with them. But when you compare with the rest of the teams, on paper, India is fielding the best possible 15 in the world.

The story of the Indian team has been revolving a lot around one man, Sourav Chandidas Ganguly. His comeback to the team has been nothing but sensational and it resembles a lot to any popular Bollywood movie theme.... but can he live upto the expectation remains to be seen. An in-form Indian team was drubbed by the WI when we toured them last, and Ganguly wasn't part of that squad. Infact, it has been quite a while since Ganguly toured WI and though the pitches there are said to resemble a lot to the subcontinent batting beauties, it will be a different ball game all together playing in foreign conditions after a long time.

India have no batting worries yet, they have the explosive Robin Uthappa to support the rejuvenated Ganguly, and the middle order has the likes of Dravid, Sachin and Yuvraj. And then you have the maturity of Dhoni to finish things and if he were to show the same kind of consistency that he's shown over the past one year, India will definetely take some effort to beat. And if you are to look for more batting options, bring Sehwag in the middle order, given any signs of form. Ofcourse Dravid would always want Sehwag to feature in the mix of things, but he too cannot overlook his inconsistency with the bat and surely, he will not be missed in the field. An ideal situation would be to have Irfan Pathan fill in the position of number 7 that, from good olden days of cricket, was that of a genuine all-rounder. Pathan can still smack the ball out of the park with the bat, but it is when he bowls should he ensure the ball doesn't end up there too often. Pathan is no Shaun Pollock or Glen Mcgrath to trouble the batsman with his length, and during the early days of his career it was his swing that was doing wonders for him. Now, there is loads of support that can be dumped on Pathan from the captain and coach but getting selected for the world cup itself should act as a morale-booster. But once again it is upto him to come up with the goods when it matters.

A break has certainly done a world of good for Zaheer Khan, but the likes of Kumble, Harbhajan and Agarkar have been pretty ordinary off-late. Agreed that they are world class bowlers in their own ranks but they haven't done enough to trouble the batsman in the recent series. In our backup bowling options, Munaf Patel has the accuracy but lacks the fitness and Sreesanth has been too erratic. The biggest headache is the likeliness of our bowling to wilt under a counter-attack. For now, India has no answer to this.

But here is the interesting part. If you look at the winners of the 1996 world cup, the Srilankan team had a mix of youth and experience - in all departments. Comparing that team with the current Indian team, a similar mix and match of individuals can be found in all aspects and also the pitches are likely to suit the subcontinent teams. If India can go through this two-month period without any injuries, and if the big guns fire, I don't see any reason why India should not bring home the cup, albeit after a quarter century. And most of the big guns, be it batting or bowling, are playing their last world cup, so it doesn't get any bigger than this for all of them.

1 comment:

Ashok said...

Bravo Vamsi ! Bravo ! :-). Honest and Rigorous view towards the team which are with the right attitude and will can bring the world cup. All the points were covered with perfection and simplicity. I am wondering why dont you start a blog for cricket? Come on and am eagerly waiting for further takes as well. Keep it coming dude !