Most teams around the world seem to have started planning well ahead of the world cup next year. Possible players including bench strengths are being constantly given a look at and prepared for possible selection. Does India have a plan and are they prepared. Let’s take a look at the line up and ?possible back ups:
Openers – MILD CONCERN
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are certainties barring injury. Other than Gambhir moving up from No:3, I don’t know if there is any clear plan for injury replacements for Sachin and Sehwag. Karthik seems to appear and disappear from the radar. I am not even sure if he is appropriate for the position. M. Vijay has floated to the surface occasionally. Parthiv Patel, Shikar Dhawan, Abhinav Mukund, Ajinkya Rahane have all played in that position of India A with no real continuity and/or assurance. This is the first and most serious sign of concern. Sachin and Sehwag will have to bear a huge load and all Indians should pray that they do not get injured.
No:3 Position -NO CONCERN
Assuming that the opening position stays, Gambhir is certain to fit into to this role. Virat Kohli has played the backup role though Rohit Sharma took that position in the first game of the ongoing tri series. Suresh Raina takes this position in the T20 and can very well fit in if required.With the possibility of Suresh Raina taking this position, if required, there may not be a strong reason to worry.
Middle Order (Positions 4 and 5) -MILD CONCERN
Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina should more than likely retain these positions unless Dhoni decides to shuffle the batting order. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli may be slotted in the event of injuries to either of the first two choices. I would, however, like to see Cheteswar Pujara given a shot and seriously considered for this position. He brings stability that is lacking at this point. I am also concerned with the consistency of either Rohit or Virat and Pujara should be given an opportunity to constantly keep Sharma and Kohli on their toes.
Allrounders (Positions 6 and 7)-SERIOUS CONCERN WITH NO 7
Dhoni batting at No:6 provides a great deal of comfort. Dhoni will rotate strike beautifully in the middle overs, play a rescue role when the top order fails, and finish off with a bang in the final overs. After Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag, Dhoni’s batting will be the key if India advance in the WC.
The same cannot be said about the key allrounder position at No:7. Ravindra Jadeja simply does not fit. He is a mediocre cricketer and it is indeed puzzling that Dhoni continues to want to pursue with him. This is probably one of the few awful decisions that Dhoni has made (and like MOhan I will be happy to be proven wrong!). The worst part is that there is simply no one in the second rung who can walk in to that position. Irfan Pathan is not in the picture at all. Abhishek Nayar came and went in a hurry. Yusuf Pathan was sorted out by all and sundry. Piyush Chawla is being tried out for the India A squad and it may very well be worth testing him the remaining games that India gets to play before the WC. Though Ashwin’s name has come up, I am not sure his batting lives up to the need for this key position. I can only wish that Irfan Pathan makes a remarkable comeback. I would also advocate gambling with him considering there is nothing to lose.
Bowlers/Bottom Order Batting – SERIOUS CONCERN
Harbhajan Singh is sure to take the No:8 position and the lead spinner role. Ashwin could very well sneak in as a possible back up for him. Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma should be first choices for 9, 10 and 11. Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, Abhimanyu Mithun, and Munaf Patel are all being thrown into the mix recently. However, I would try Jaidev Unadkat out ahead of the above four. We certainly are completely underprepared as far as our fast bowling strength is concerned. None on the list gives me confidence that they will turn up on particular day and turn it on. And, there does not seem to be any plan in this regard.
Pragyan Ojha should consider himself lucky if he finds a seat in the side especially if India decide to go with Piyush Chawla and Ashwin.
While a desirable playing X1 selects itself, the back up is totally uncertain. This is a big concern for me. It is even more worrying because there doesn’t seem to be a proper strategy in place to deal with this. The India A team starting with the captaincy role has been tampered with so much that it certainly doesn’t represent India’s bench strength at this point.