Now that the dust seems to have settled somewhat in the matter of selection of squads for the first two one-dayers against the West Indies and for the World Cup, it may be an appropriate moment to take stock of their merits and the team's chances in these events.
Our selectors need to be complimented on being pragmatic and rational and by and large the omissions and additions are deserving and on expected lines.
Sourav Ganguly, for instance, has shown that he has not lost any of his zest and willingness for a good fight and for his guts and determination alone he deserves to be in the team. The much touted 10,000 odd runs he has already in his kitty are a notional advantage but his current form and state of mind are to me much more significant factors.
I strongly feel that the old form of Sachin Tendulkar and him should be resurrected even though we have Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir, two regular openers, in the squad. More
To me, Ganguly has always been a better player of the shorter variety and a major contributing factor for this being restrictions on the number of short pitched deliveries which have been his Achilles heel for so long. All the talk about reinstating him as captain is balderdash and he should be left alone to savour the last few games of his illustrious and combative career.
I am also hopeful that Tendulkar, as opener, will give full rein to his huge repertoire of strokes. Opening the innings means he will be free from possible middle order shackles and he should be left alone to simply enjoy himself.
It is a pity that Anil Kumble has had to be rested but he will surely be recalled for the later matches. His presence is of absolute essence to India's chances of winning a match. He has been left out unjustifiably in the past only to our peril.
The inclusion of Ramesh Powar is to safeguard against the recent inexplicable lack of confidence shown by Harbhajan Singh and in any case I consider that we need two spinners (and three seamers) in our conditions and those that will obtain in the West Indies. Powar is included also because of Virender Sehwag's absence as a spinner in the first two games. I am also happy for R P Singh and Suresh Raina who are both extremely promising and will produce results sooner than later.
Sehwag has certainly been an enigma. When in, for however a short period of time, he looks in good touch his playing and missing notwithstanding, then inexplicably throws it all away. His type of player needs periodic doses of luck to thrive and there are more days of late when his shots are finding a fielder than used to happen a few months ago.
Has he lost form? How can anyone be out of 'form' in South Africa only a few days ago and immediately on arrival in India suddenly rediscover it? Form certainly is a dodgy factor.
May be, it is time for Sehwag to pad up for a longish session in the nets so that his feet begin to move properly and his noted eye-hand coordination starts functioning as before. We all know we need him at his best for the World Cup and I have little doubt that the phoenix will rise once again. A respite from the glare of the spotlight could be just what is needed.
With Yuvraj Singh also back in the fray once his injury is totally healed, we will have in a few weeks time, all available material for the final squad for the World Cup and hopefully they will perform to our 'realistic' expectations.
Everyone knows that at least for the past decade or so, India has been one of the top teams in world cricket but it has also been one of the most enigmatic team playing sublimely one match or series only to plummet to horrific depths in the very next.
It has always been my contention that culturally and environmentally our mental make-up is such that when we are doing well, we get complacent and this is a sure recipe for disaster. When the down mode sets in we panic and matters go from bad to worse. This is endemic and cannot be corrected overnight.
For achieving a level of consistency, the exercise of toughening of the mind has to be undertaken at an early age. Once a goal has been achieved, the mind must be taught not to allow the comfort zone to become its permanent residence but rather a stepping stone to higher levels of comfort.
Assuming that in the foreseeable future the above situation is unlikely to change, and mental and attitudinal vicissitudes will continue to dog our team, how will we end up at the conclusion of the eight pre-World Cup games.
Well, we'll soon play two teams we have played recently, and although past performance should normally be a reasonable guide, this is not the case here as both the West Indies and Sri Lanka are not unlike us temperamentally and in the department of mood fluctuations, making any predictions is therefore a hazardous exercise.