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Selectors hope to find right backup

Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his selection team of Yashpal Sharma, Surendra Bhave, Narendra Hirwani and Raja Venkat will get together on Monday morning in Chennai for their most important meeting till date. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Jan 17, 2011 01:30 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his selection team of Yashpal Sharma, Surendra Bhave, Narendra Hirwani and Raja Venkat will get together on Monday morning in Chennai for their most important meeting till date.

Their job is to select a combination which will give India their best shot at ending a 27-year-long wait and winning the 2011 World Cup at home. Despite the implications of what they decide, it is not expected to be a long meeting. The nucleus of the team, after all, is settled. In fact, the major part of the meeting is likely to be spent discussing the Indian physio's reports on the injury status of our star players.

Except for a few fitness issues, there is no debate about team composition with Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel (especially after Sunday's super show in South Africa) and Ashish Nehra all selecting themselves. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/17_01_pg19.jpg

The five wise men will have to break their heads over finalising two slots in the 15-member squad. A crucial call will be whether to have a backup wicketkeeper-batsman or not. The selectors have to decide if India needs a cover for the most important member of the side - Dhoni. In case of an injury there is the option of asking for a replacement but in case of Dhoni it would be a tricky decision as even if he is unable to keep wickets, he is good enough to be in the side for his captaincy as well as batting.

It's a long tournament and the selectors will have to keep in mind Dhoni's history of a recurring back problem. A backup 'keeper-batsman will calm the think tank's nerves and allow Dhoni to go all out in the tournament.

Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik are the two contenders but the Gujarat player has the edge in terms of current form and performance. Patel did well in the couple of chances he got against New Zealand and has had a good domestic season.

The second point of discussion will be whether to go in for a second spinner or an extra pacer. R Ashwin has a strong case. He has done well in the chances he has got and will be an ideal cover for Harbhajan Singh. The argument against Ashwin is that being an off-spinner he will restrict India from going in with a two-spinner attack. Dhoni's preference for a three-pacer, one-spinner combination is well known. He prefers part-time spinners Yuvraj, Yusuf and Suresh Raina to share the second spinner's role.

In case Harbhajan misses a game, Ashwin has shown the temperament to shoulder the responsibility of the lead spinner's role. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla will complement Harbhajan as he will have the ball spinning the other way but there are question marks over his ability to take over the lead spinner's role.

In Ashwin, Dhoni will have the option of someone who can bowl with the new ball as well. Both Ashwin and Chawla are effective lower-order bats.

Despite his fine showing in South Africa, S Sreesanth is likely to miss the bus as it doesn't make sense to go in with five pacers when you have the option of getting a replacement in case of an injury.