When K Srikkanth and the four other national selectors sit together on Friday to pick the team for the Twenty20 World Cup that will be played in the West Indies shortly, they’ll have a couple of tricky decisions to make before they get down to discussing the names of players.
Firstly, the selectors have to decide how much they will be swayed by performances in the IPL. Given that the tournament is a T20 event and that the best in the world take part, the wise men might well choose to base their decisions on performances in the event.
The tournament has received saturation coverage, and it will be difficult for the selectors to think of performances in past Indian T20 international matches. However, they would do well to place some store in those games as Mahendra Singh Dhoni will want a unit that gels well and has played together in the past.
The other policy decision the selectors have to make is whether to merely prune the original list of 30 probables to 15, or look outside this long list. While this will mean an admission of sorts that the selectors failed to pick the best possible 30, it would be in the best interests of the team to pick men in form. While the romantic debate of whether Sachin Tendulkar should be dragged back into the shortest version of the game is unlikely to occupy any time in the meeting that will be held at the Cricket Centre in the BCCI’s offices in Mumbai, other players could hope for the best.
The International Cricket Council clarified that there was nothing in the rules to stop a country from picking players from outside the original list of 30 probables.
“The squad of 15 players can be selected out of the provisional squad,” an ICC spokesperson clarified.
“But once the final squad is announced, the team needs clearance/approval from the Event Technical Committee to replace an injured player with a player who is outside the provisional squad.”
Fitness permitting, 11 players pick themselves, leaving four spots open, the second spinner’s, the reserve batsman’s and two medium-pacers. If the selectors decide that it’s ok to look beyond the original 30 they will think hard about left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, who has comfortably out-bowled the competition.
He has sent down 19 overs at an economy rate of 5.7, seven of which were bowled with field restrictions on.
The biggest headache is with the medium-pacers, as Ishant Sharma has struggled for form and question marks remain over Ashish Nehra. Vinay Kumar’s name will certainly come up for discussion, as could Munaf Patel. If the selectors want a spare batsman, Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa are frontrunners, having scored quickly and innovatively.