Will India lift the 2011 cricket World Cup for the first time in 28 years? My answer would be — I would want them to, it is possible, but I am not too sure. Looking at the current form of the team, which has been struggling to gain momentum just ahead of the competition, a lot of prayers will be offered for Dhoni and Co. when they take field from February 19 onwards.
Barring the team’s performance at the 2003 WC and the our triumphant streak at the first T20 WC, Team India have not really shined at the global stage. The worrying point this time around is the lack of a concentrated effort to build a complete team for the mega event and considering that the sub-continent is playing hosts to the WC, a lot will be expected out of the Men in Blue.
So the question is — does this squad — MS Dhoni (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla, R Ashwin — have it in them to lift the coveted crown?
Being an Indian and being a Sachin Tendulkar fan, I would want this to happen.
Batting woes for India
At one point of time, cricketing experts always lauded the Indian batting line-up. While growing up, all I heard was that India had the perfect batting line-up on paper to combat any international team. Cutting across to 2011, with the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar coming out of their injuries and with the rest of the batsmen letting the team down in their absence (especially during the South Africa tour), Team India surely have something to think about.
At the international stage, cricketing fans will hope that our one time star performer Yuvraj Singh, who has been having a tough run offlate, comes good. To be honest, I could not have imagined a team without Yuvi in the side — only because he has the skill to take any opposition to the cleaners and looking at his recent successful stint with the ball, I am sure the southpaw would bring in that confidence in his batting.
Even though a couple of our batsmen are struggling to find form, what is encouraging is the likes of Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli coming good at the right time. Raina and Kohli have the ability to build partnerships and also are clean strikers of the cricketing ball, but their inexperience on such a big stage should not put them under any pressure. If they continue to play their natural game, I am sure that India will hold a steady middle-order line-up.
However, what every Indian will be hoping is that the two big names, who are keenly watched — Sachin Tendulkar and Yusuf Pathan — continue to create magic. We all know what both of them can do to any bowling line-up and their present form will definitely be a smiling factor for each one of us.
Will Sree’s non-inclusion hurt India?
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly believes that dropping pacer S Sreesanth from the squad was a huge mistake by the Indian selectors. I may, unfortunately, agree to some extent. Keeping in mind Sree’s current form, I would have wanted him to be a part of the bowling line-up. However, our friend Munaf Patel’s 4-wicket haul against South Africa just days before the final selection gave him an upper edge.
Though some may feel that Sreesanth’s aggression is at times unwanted, I feel that a little bit of drama does irk the opposition. What India might just miss is his ability to strike early, hope the selector’s decision does not cost too much.
Barring this hiccup, our bowling line-up looks relatively competitive and balanced. With Zaheer Khan leading the attack from the front, a lot will be expected out of the pacers. The worry, ofcourse, is the fact that they have continued to struggle to get their act together during the death overs. If they manage to unleash the yorkers, the reverse swings and more during the last five overs of a match, India will surely be on their way to stop an all out opposition attack.
No matter how ‘notorious’ he may come across off the field, spinner Harbhajan Singh will hold the key to India’s overall success. His experience will definitely assist Ashwin and Chawla while they bowl in the crucial middle overs of a match.
Bhajji’s performance with the bat, which has made given him the title of a match-winner offlate, has given the team an added advantage. His heroics and guts will definitely boost the tailenders to perform well enough to save India some matches.
Allrounders in the squad — is there such a thing?
The perfect all-rounder is someone who has the ability to produce qualitatively with the bat and the ball and also hold the ability to produce the odd match-winning performance at any given time. The only name who comes to my mind is Yusuf Pathan. But is one all-rounder really enough?
We do have guys like Yuvi and Raina, who can bat well and bowl decently enough in the middle overs. But still they are not genuine all-rounders. With the shadow of explosive batting followed in a T20 format taking centre stage in a 50 overs match, playing a part time bowler may prove risky as well. At such a stage, is India ready to take a risk?
Where is our reserve wicketkeeper?
What if MS Dhoni injures his back or tears a ligament on the even of the World Cup. Who replaces him?
With no names of the likes of Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, Wridhiman Saha featuring in the final squad, India will hope that their only wicketkeeper in the line-up remains fit throughout. Guess the selectors literally believe that Dhoni is ‘Superman’.
Yes Virat Kohli can wicketkeep, but having a genuine wicketkeeper makes a huge difference — especially when you have stars like Bhajji spinning the bowl away to glory on various sub-continent tracks, which mostly favours spinners.
The final laugh
I would have loved to see more names feature in the squad, however, our selectors are restricted to only choosing a 15-member armoury. Though I am a bit unsure, if we have the perfect team, I will back our players to play to their skills and keep up the competition level throughout. Being a true Indian cricket fan, I would not want Team India to bag anything less than World Cup glory 🙂 after all Yeh Dil Hai Hindustani!
Here is wishing Dhoni and Co. all the best for their WC campaign. Chak de India!