Good pick, be ready for changing tracks
India have picked up just about the right bunch for the Cup. The batters and bowlers alike have experience and promise, writes Ravi Shastri.Updated: Feb 12, 2007 23:23 IST
In my view, India have picked up just about the right bunch for the World Cup. The batters have experience and promise, as is the case with bowlers. There would always be one or two spots open to debate but that's true about most teams.
Having said so, I feel for Ramesh Powar, who had a strong case to be included in the team. If you name the seven best bowlers in the land in the one-day format, Powar would among them. He has been the most successful Indian spinner in the last 12 months.
It is easy to get riled by his weight or his supposed indifference to fitness drills, but his ability to take wickets is beyond doubt. He is the kind of bowler who can get you the wickets in the middle overs. His variety and loop entice batsmen who, anyway, are uncomfortable playing him defensively. He brings them out of their comfort zone, which is the essence of a good bowler.
This Indian squad has some very fine bowlers but you need clever operators who stand the best chance of breaking a promising stand. Lasith Malinga is a case in point: he went for runs in Rajkot, but also picked up wickets at key moments to shift the pressure on the Indians.
Powar also possesses this ability. He would have pushed for a place even with Harbhajan and Kumble in the squad --- now that's good bench strength! He would have been in my team.
On a separate note, I think there is too much of a sameness in the pace attack.
Now that Rahul Dravid has made it clear that he wants key players to step up the pace, the onus is on India's big guns to be good finishers of matches.
I suspect if the wickets are low and slow in the West Indies, big hits wouldn't be always possible. It would then be the players' speed between the wickets that could be of critical importance. India came a cropper in the middle overs in the West Indies last year and the message shouldn't be lost this time around.
On tracks where scores of 300 wouldn't always be possible and where the difference between teams could be just a few runs, good fielding and running between the wickets could well be the difference.
I guess fans need to be aware of the conditions which exist in the West Indies. We don't want a situation like last year when India went to the Caribbean high on their performances at home and a win over Pakistan in an away-series, only to be frustrated in there with the ball not coming on to the bat. It happened in game after game as the Indians found themselves unable to force the pace.
Doubts then set in and the high ground achieved at home was quickly lost. India went on a downward spiral till the slide was arrested, again, in a home series last month. It's a cycle which has been playing out too often for comfort.
Most of our cricketers would now take a break for the next couple of weeks, except for those seeking to find form and fitness.
Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan need to play as much as they can, and the same is true for Sehwag. They most likely would turn out for the zonal sides in the domestic one-day competition and would draw huge attention. One hopes there would be enough good performances by them to cheer the Indian camp.
In the West Indies, from Trinidad to Antigua to Barbados, the conditions could be very different. One hopes the team has covered most bases and wouldn't be found wanting on different tracks, whether they are seaming and bouncy or low and slow. It's a real issue and no smart team would ignore this possibility.
First Published: Feb 12, 2007 23:23 IST