To pick Sehwag or not will be the dilemma for selectors

It would, no doubt, be a tough decision for the selectors who basically have to decide on just two or three berths.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2007 16:36 IST

The national cricket selectors face a big dilemma on whether to pick an out-of-form Virender Sehwag when they meet here on Monday for the difficult task of choosing India's World Cup squad.

Sehwag has been through a prolonged lean patch this season and was also dropped for the West Indies series but the selectors are aware of his match-winning abilities which could prove handy in the mega event to be held in the West Indies in March-April.

The Delhi opener was given a chance to regain his form by being recalled to the team for the ongoing series against Sri Lanka. While he did not get to bat in the washed out tie at the Eden Gardens, he managed just 19 in the second match in Rajkot.

It would, no doubt, be a tough decision for the selectors who basically have to decide on just two or three berths in the 15-member squad as most of the players have almost assured their places.

Yet, a combination of fitness concerns and a lack of suitable replacement might leave the five wisemen with no option but to rely on Sehwag's experience.

And the Delhi dasher has the full backing of the team management, if the words of captain Rahul Dravid was anything to go by.

"We are not going to judge our World Cup team based on performance in just one or two games. When you pick the World Cup squad you need to look at the combination you might play in the West Indies, on the conditions there, the records of the players in the past," Dravid had said on the eve of the second one-dayer at Rajkot.

That would apply to Irfan Pathan as well. The Baroda left-arm seamer has been in the spotlight more for his poor bowling form.

Pathan was rested for a one-dayer and played in only one Test when India toured the West Indies last year. He was sent home from the tour of South Africa with an advice to sort out the problems in his bowling.

In case he is selected, Sehwag is likely to be played as middle order batsman while former captain Sourav Ganguly is expected to partner Robin Uthappa at the top.

Dravid also said ahead of the Sri Lanka series that most of the World Cup slots has already been finalised and only a couple of them were to be decided.

That would mean the squad for the first two one-dayers against Sri Lanka was more or less the one that will board the flight to the Caribbeans on March 1.

The couple of issues that will occupy the selectors' mind before they settle on the final 15 will be the fitness levels of the players and whether the team needs two wicketkeepers or three spinners.

Yuvraj Singh is easing his way back into the team from a near four-month lay-off recuperating from a knee ligament injury which he suffered during Champions Trophy in October.

Besides, he also has a niggle in the back that kept him out of the two ODIs played against Sri Lanka.

Again, the captain has been highly positive about Yuvraj being fit to play.

"The concern over Yuvraj's fitness for the World Cup was about his knee. We are very happy with his development. His knee has not been a problem at all and is fine," Dravid said.

"The back problem is an unfortunate one, but is not a serious injury. We have done all the scans.

"It's just a sort of an irritating niggle and is taking a little bit more time than expected to heal. I don't think that should be a factor in his selection for the World Cup."

Dinesh Kaarthick has literally forced his way into the team through his batting and fielding prowess.

Yet, whether the 20-year old Tamil Nadu player deserves a slot as second wicketkeeper ahead of Ramesh Powar needs to be answered.

Question marks remain over the fitness of struggling paceman Irfan Pathan who missed both the one dayers against Sri Lanka while still recovering from a sore shoulder.

Seamer Munaf Patel who missed the series against West Indies with an ankle injury has impressed in the two matches against Sri Lanka with his disciplined bowling while enhancing his claims for a world cup berth.

Southpaw Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir who were dropped for the early part of the series against Sri Lanka are unlikely to force their way back.

The ICC deadline to submit the 15-man squad, trimmed from the list of 30 probables announced last month, is Feb 13.

Along with the World Cup squad, the team for the last two one-dayers against Sri Lanka to be played at Goa (Feb 14) and Vishakapatnam (Feb 17) would also be picked here.

First Published: Feb 11, 2007 16:36 IST