By John Cheeran
Will the World Cup spin in India’s favour?
National selectors hope so. On Monday, they selected three specialist spinners – leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh -- in its 15-man squad.
The third spinner knocked Kerala’s fiery fast bowler S Sreesanth and Mumbai batsman Rohit Sharma from the team.
There is an abundance of spinning talent in the side when you consider that Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina could turn the ball. Even Sachin Tendulkar, playing in his sixth World Cup, can send down an over or two.
Focusing excessively on desi factor could back fire in the end. Because, others may do better than what Indians are supposed to do in such situations. In 1987, Graham Gooch and company swept India out of the World Cup final.
Make no mistake. It’s the batsmen who are going to win this World Cup. No matter what bowlers can try, if the pitch is not under prepared, that is.
Injuries are a worry for this side, especially in batting department. At the moment Tendulkar (hamstring), Virender Sehwag (shoulder) and Gautam Gambhir (elbow) are nursing injuries.
Let’s listen to selection committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth on Monday: “We took everything into consideration. The conditions, the opponents... everything that we need to win. We are playing in India, in spin friendly conditions. There are no surprises, it’s a sensible team. We are confident we will win (the World Cup) playing in India. Our team has been playing really well in both Tests and
One-dayers. We have a strong batting lineup backed up by sound bowling. It’s a balanced team. Every team has injury concerns. It’s part and parcel of the game. The current teams form gives us a lot of confidence. The team’s doing brilliantly. We defended a small total of 190 against South Africa in South Africa. Playing at home is a lot of pressure. I pray for the players. Let’s leave the rest to God and hope for the best. The greatness of any team lies in the handling of pressure. And I hope they can repeat our feat of 83.”
Srikkanth was a member of the Indian team that won the 1983 World Cup in England.
India will play against England, South Africa, West Indies,
Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands in Group B.
This will be the third World Cup to be staged in the
subcontinent, after the 1987 and the 1996 editions. India qualified for the semifinals on both occasions. India was a finalist in 2003, but exited in the first round in
the last edition in the Caribbean.
India is one of the favourites for the 14-team tournament, which begins commences with a match between India and Bangladesh at Dhaka on February 19.
The final will be played in Mumbai on April 2.
Indian team for World Cup:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag
(vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar.
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