India’s squad for the World Cup 2011 – bickerings over the 15th spot

The men entrusted to win the World Cup at home, in front of thousands of cheering fans in the stadiums and millions around the country, have been announced. They will be expected to win their first World Cup trophy since 1983, and will aspire to be the first home nation to walk away with the prize (Sri Lanka in 1996 doesn’t count).

These are the chosen 15:

Batsmen

Sachin Tendulkar

Virender Sehwag

Gautam Gambhir

Virat Kohli

Yuvraj Singh

Suresh Raina

Allrounder

Yusuf Pathan

Wicketkeeper

MS Dhoni

Pace attack

Zaheer Khan

Ashish Nehra

Praveen Kumar

Munaf Patel

Spin

Harbhajan Singh

Ravichandra Ashwin

Piyush Chawla

 

Personally, I think the selectors did a good job. I agree with 14 of their choices (which is way better than the 9 I agreed with, in WC 2007). Frankly, Rohit Sharma’s omission is not surprising to me; unlike Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel, he never grabbed his opportunities to impress. The only bone of contention is the 15th spot, which went to Piyush Chawla. India might be playing at home in spin friendly conditions, but it is still one spinner too many. With Harbhajan as the first choice spinner and loads of part-timers to support him, it is hard to see a second specialist spinner getting a game. Ashwin was always my second choice, since he has always grabbed his opportunities in whatever limited chances he has got. In case of an injury to Harbhajan, he can step up as the replacement. I find it hard to believe that after all that Dhoni has said, India will play with 5 bowlers, including two spinners; and for all of Chawla’s abilities as a bowler who can bat, it wouldn’t be wise to risk playing him in the biggest tournament of all, when the last time he played for India was almost 2 years ago. So instead of carrying Chawla as a passenger, they could have had a specialist batsmen who can field well as a sub (Rohit Sharma, though I wouldn’t give him a game) or a backup keeper (Parthiv Patel, who was unfairly overlooked in favor of Dinesh Karthik for much of the last four years). Then again, this is the 15th spot we are talking about, and I doubt it is going to make a big difference. I for one, am grateful that the selectors resisted the urge to select Dinesh Karthik or Ravindra Jadeja!

PS: Watch Srikkanth’s hilarious interview on Cricinfo about the WC squad….Geoff Miller is not the only chief selector who can earn money through after dinner speeches!

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6 comments

  1. Yeah, I’m with you…no significant complaints about selection this time.

    The 15th spot is arguable…but only because no one made a compelling enough case. I have my doubts about Chawla…but I’m willing to put my faith in Dhoni & Kirsten’s judgment on the matter. I hope Chawla will get at least 2 games in South Africa now to get some match confidence.

    The other thing I found interesting yesterday is that many experts were surprised that the 15th spot went to a spinner. These guys seem to have forgetten the 1996 WC when SL’s spin-heavy bowling — with Murali, Dharmasena, Jayasuriya, Aravinda — played a CRUCIAL role in the S/F and the Finals…by when the pitches had become even more conducive to spin. So I think there is sound logic in having 3 genuine spinners in the squad, who could be rotated based on fitness & form.

    But one risk the selectors, and Dhoni, have assumed is not having a 2nd keeper-batsman in the squad. So we just have to hope and pray for Dhoni’s health & fitness till April 2nd! (Although Dhoni is a tough one…so we have that in our favour)

    1. Btw, I am in agreement with you that India will not need 2 front-line spinners in the playing XI for the most part…but towards the final stages of the WC the pitches may warrant 2 genuine spinners and only 2 seamers. In that situation, it will be good to have the option of choosing from 3 genuine spinners in the squad…with form, fitness and the opposition deciding the issue.

  2. Not really suprised by Chawla’s selection. I would have preferred another paceman to cover our injury prone quicks. Since the WC is in the sub-continent, the batsmen are less likely to get hit and injured than the pacemen breaking down with the increased effort on slow/flat tracks.
    As for reserve keeper, I understand that it is possible for one to to be on standby if visa arrangements are made along with the others. Since travel time is expected to be low (compared to flying to SA/WI/ENG), a quick replacement will be possible. I think a similar arrangement is needed for a paceman.

      1. Agree with you tracer…and it was good to hear Dhoni say yesterday that he was encouraging those left out by pointing this out.

        And what a cracking match again! So proud of the fighting spirit in this current Indian team! Singh is King! And so is Pathan! 🙂

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