It’s a team of battle-hardened veterans, swashbuckling stroke players, incisive bowlers, an astute captain, a mild surprise — and a slight risk. And on them rest India’s World Cup dreams.
The selectors, led by Chairman Kris Srikkanth, on Monday announced the team that a billion fans had debated over the past few months in the run up to cricket’s biggest quadrennial event that kicks off on the sub-continent on February 19.
The batsmen selected themselves. A line-up of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan is any captain’s — and fan’s —dream.
The first three — Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir — are nursing minor niggles, but they are expected to be fit in time for the tournament.One glaring omission was that of a second wicket-keeper. If skipper MS Dhoni is injured, India will be left without a proper guard behind the wickets.
Srikkanth & Company did provide a few other debating points. Young leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who last played an ODI in July 2008, was chosen as the third specialist spinner along with veteran Harbhajan Singh and talented off-spinner R. Ashwin.
The choice of three specialist spinners showed that the team think tank is certain slow bowlers will be decisive on sub-continental pitches. India is in Group B, which also features England, South Africa and West Indies. However, the inclusion of Chawla came at the cost of left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. Dhoni is said to have backed Chawla.
Pacemen S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma were also unlucky. Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel, the latter fresh from his match-winning role in Johannesburg on Saturday, edged them out.
Rohit Sharma was a marginal omission. “Taking into account all the conditions like wickets and the opposition we will be playing, the selectors have chosen a very well balanced team,” Srikkanth said.
India's World Cup squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag (Vice Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, R Ashwin, Piyush Chawla.Your say | Take a poll | Listen to podcast