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Pace department in state of flux; 12 play musical chairs

Two-and-a-half months ahead of the World Cup, medium-pacers are giving Indian selectors a problem of plenty of a different kind.

cricket Updated: Dec 01, 2010 00:21 IST

Two-and-a-half months ahead of the World Cup, medium-pacers are giving Indian selectors a problem of plenty of a different kind.

As many as 12 medium-pacers have been tried out by India in the past 12 months, including the first ODI of the current series against New Zealand. In that time, the team played 28 matches, all but four of them in the sub-continent, that is, in conditions similar to what they will face in the World Cup.

Those conditions dictate the inclusion of two or at the most three medium-pacers in the XI because spinners, specialist and part-time, are expected to play a major role, particularly in the middle overs and even during the slog. Thus it will be surprising if India’s ODI squad for the World Cup has more than five medium-pacers. Zeroing in on the five, however, is proving to be difficult.

The selectors’ dilemma is indicated by the fact that of the 12 medium-pacers picked in the 28 one-dayers, the most matches that any of them has played is 21 (Ashish Nehra). Praveen Kumar is second with 14 and Zaheer Khan is behind him on 13.

Beyond them lie Sreesanth (9 ODIs), Ishant (6) and Ashok Dinda (5) with the list going down to Pankaj Singh who has played a single match.

Thus even if Zaheer, Nehra and Praveen are considered first-choice medium-pacers for the World Cup, who exactly will be the reserve bowlers is not clear.

It is true that the selectors have not been helped by injuries, illnesses and the need to rest a few bowlers from time to time, given the packed international schedule. But still, the lack of consistency in selecting the medium-pacers can hurt India going into the big event.