The batting squad is more or less finalized for the World Cup. In my opinion, the following players are going to make it – Uthappa, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Sehwag. Although Sehwag didn’t play in the series, I am sure he will be named in the WC squad. India should and will pick another batsman in the squad, and this will be a toss between Gambhir and Karthik.
As far as bowlers go, I think Zaheer, Agarkar and Harbhajan have booked their places in the squad and there are three more openings. Let us start by looking at the stats for the series –
The most impressive bowler has obviously been Zaheer Khan. Although, he only took 4 wickets in 3 matches, the run rate he has conceded has been a stand out in the series. Also the only match India lost didn’t have Zaheer in it. That should tell us something. I would give him a rating of 8/10 for the series.
Zaheer Khan impressed with his economy rate
Sreesanth was erratic in both the matches he played and in spite of his outstanding performance in South Africa, may miss out the World Cup spot if he doesn’t do anything of value against the Sri Lankans. My rating of Sreesanth in the series – 2/10
Sreesanth was the biggest disappointment
Agarkar was the only bowler to have played all four games and has ended up with the most wickets. He was also the best bowler in the only match we lost with a spell of 10-1-45-3, including a first ball wicket of Gayle. He however conceded 8 wides in the match and although his place in the World Cup squad is certain, he has to bowl with a lot more consistency. And also work on those wides…. 8/10
Agarkar was the highest wicket taker for India in the series
Bhajji has also bowled well in this series and in the series in the West Indies last year. I reckon he will be in the World cup squad as well. My rating for Bhajji – 7/10
Joginder Sharma didn’t really do much in the one match that he played. It almost seemed that Joginder Sharma was in the squad to prove that there aren’t any good allrounders around and to fall back on Pathan. 2/10
Both Tendulkar and Yuvraj are only part time bowlers and for a part time bowler Sachin has done extremely well in the series. As Mohan pointed out, Pathan should also be considered as a 6 or 7 over bowler. India should get him to bowl the opening spell and if he does well then give him a couple of overs later on. Expecting 10 overs from him is not going to work out. Between Tendulkar, Yuvi, Sehwag and Pathan, 20 overs should easily be accounted for. I think Ganguly may not get to bowl a lot of overs in the flat pitches of the Caribbean, but he may also chip in with an over or two in the odd match. Tendulkar, Yuvraj – 6/10, Pathan 5/10
By Kumble’s standards he hasn’t bowled well in the series…and that is the nature of ODI games. Good test bowlers sometimes fare very poorly in these games. It is time, Kumble announced his retirement from the shorter version of the game and concentrated purely on test matches, much in the same way that Warney did. India needs his services a lot more in the test arena than in the One day Internationals. 5/10
Powar bowled reasonably well in both the games he played taking 5 wickets in total. But between Harbhajan and Powar, my choice would be Harbhajan. The selectors may yet decide to take 2 spinners for the tour and if Kumble misses out he has a chance to be in the squad. 6/10
Going by my ratings and their performances, it is going to be a tough call between Powar, Sreesanth, Kumble and Pathan. Treating Pathan more as a (batting) all rounders may earn him a spot on the team, leaving two more spots for grab. I am surprised that RP Singh was dropped from the squad even before he got a game. I hope he is added to the squad for the Sri Lanka series along with Munaf. Unless we get these two spots right, we may end up going to the World cup with no bench strength.