And so, another series starts today in India. India play a 5-match ODI series against Pakistan with todays’ first game being played at Guwahati.
oN paper, India appear to start as favourites in the ODI series — at least, in the judgement of Rameez Raja and Sanjay Manjrekar! And I think that is fair enough. The team is more settled under its new captain who seems to exude confidence with every game. Despite the dropping of Rahul Dravid, they have a more settled team that has just been through a tough series against Australia. Although Pakistan have come through a tough series against South Africa, there is an unsettled look to the team and one never knows what Shoaib Akhtar’s presence will do in the dressing room.
This is the team that I think India should go with.
Sourav Ganguly (Gautam Gambhir)
Virender Sehwag (Rohit Sharma)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
R. P. Singh (Murali Kartik)
Zaheer Khan (Sreesanth)
My team selection is motivated by a few factors. The early start would necessitate the inclusion of a few pace options. The game commences at 8.30am so that the game can complete by 4.30pm, when the sun starts to set in these parts! Why play in these parts at this time of the year may be a question that one could conceivably pose. But given that the recepient of such questions would be the BCCI and a certain Niranjan Shah, “save breath” would be a safe alternative to a poser that would definitely be met with nothing more than a vague retort!
The ground at Guwahati is, at about 60 yards, quite small by international standards. Dhoni, in his pre-match said, “This is one of the grounds where we could have extended the boundary ropes.” Given this, I doubt India will go with two spinners.
I’d play Virender Sehwag who is supposed to be in “good nick” according to his captain. Unfortunately, this will mean that Gautam Gambhir misses out.
Given the early start and the possible dewey conditions, I would also play the new-lad, Praveen Kumar in the team. However, I feel that the Praveen Kumar play may be a bridge too far for this team. The team may go down the safety-path and select Sreesanth or Murali Kartik instead of this young, capable allrounder who was recently described to be as being “in the James Hopes mould”.