The selectors are due to announce India’s team of 15 for the World Cup on Monday 17 Jan 2011. I suspect the selection meeting is going to be quite short. In other words, I expect there will be few surprises and questions in a team that selects itself.
I expect the 15 to be (in batting order):
Virat Kohli / Yusuf Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / R. Ashwin
Praveen Kumar / Munaf Patel / Sreesanth
I expect Virat Kohli to play in the XI for the first game ahead of Yusuf Pathan and if he does, he will bat ahead of Suresh Raina.
I have little doubt that R. Ashwin will be the second spinner. I don’t think Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha will get a look in. Ashwin will be a like-for-like replacement for Harbhajan Singh in case of an injury to the first-team off-spinner!
The fact is that, whatever the composition of the final XI, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are going to have to bowl a few overs. Given that the tournament is going to be held in India, I expect this “constraint” to work in India’s advantage.
The only debate is likely to be around the last seamer’s spot. I have given this spot to Sreesanth and must admit to gulping as I did that! This is the only selection which is not clear in my books. This spot could be occupied by either Sreesanth or Vinay Kumar or Ishant Sharma, in my view.
The above selection assumes that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Praveen Kumar are all fit.
India is a strong favourite by dint of her strong batting line-up. The bowling is not as strong and a lot will depend on the 5th bowler’s overs which will be shared by Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli (and perhaps also by Virender Sehwag, his shoulder allowing).
The major weak-link, however is the fielding. With Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan (and with a dodgy-shoulder-Sehwag) the team starts with a 25-run deficit already!
But, if the above team does not deliver the Cup to India, in my view, no one else will, outside this fifteen.