The Indian team for the first two ODI matches against Sri Lanka has been announced. The team is along expected lines and reads:
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, R Uthappa, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Virender Sehwag, S. Sreesanth.
As the pre-selection whispers indicated, both Virender Sehwag and Munaf Patel find a place in the XV. Romesh Powar and Suresh Raina have been shown the door.
Unless Virender Sehwag or Irfan Pathan or Munaf Patel blow it big time with either form or injury, it is extremely likely that this XV will be the team that goes to the World Cup in four weeks’ time.
This team is not too different to the team that I had suggested in my blog entry a few weeks back. Back then, I had suggsted a World Cup XV of:
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, S. Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh, Suresh Raina, Joginder Sharma.
The differences are Anil Kumble, Dinesh Karthik and Munaf Patel (in the team that the selectors chose) instead of Suresh Raina, R. P. Singh and Joginder Sharma that I had suggested in my team.
The selectors have probably got it right with their choices of Kumble, Karthik and Patel. I am just not sure about the durability of Munaf Patel though.
The next four games are going to be quite vital for India’s preparations. Sri Lanka are a good opposition although they will sorely miss Chaminda Vaas and Muthiag Muralitharan. But as coach Tom Moody said in a recent interview, it is also perhaps an opportunity for others to step up to the plate.