Vengsarkar, the Chairman of selectors announced the 30 probables for India's cricket World Cup campaign (Feb-Mar 2007).
The probables are:
Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Suresh Raina, Ramesh Powar, Anil Kumble, Rudra Pratap Singh, Dinesh Mongia, VRV Singh, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Sourav Ganguly, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, S. Badrinath, Ishant Sharma, Rajesh Pawar, Joginder Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara.
This list is not a million miles away from one I had suggested early yesterday on this blog. The two outside choices that I'd alluded to -- Robin Uthappa and Joginder Sharma -- are both in. By the way, another reason for my penchant for Uthappa is that he keeps wickets. He was an India U-19 wicketkeeper not long ago and in that sense, is in the 'Dravid mould'. So, if Karthik does not make the final cut, Uthappa can don the gloves in case of an injury to Dhoni...
Joginder Sharma did not set the world on fire against Bangladesh in his debut series. It was a series in which India lost an ODI to Bangladesh! However, times have changed and he is a changed cricketer. I have a feeling he will come good. He occupies the all-rounder's spot if Irfan Pathan does not manage to get it all together.
The list of probables can be broken into three categories of 10 players in each: CERTAIN, NO-WAY and MAYBE
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, S. Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan.
Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Dinesh Karthik, Munaf Patel, VRV Singh, Gautam Gambhir.
Mohammad Kaif, Anil Kumble, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, VVS Laxman, Rohit Sharma, S. Badrinath, Ishant Sharma, Rajesh Pawar, Cheteshwar Pujara.
Arguably, guys like Kumble, VVS, Kaif and Mongia could make it to the "MAYBE" list. However, I do not think that that would happen. At least, I do not wish that to happen! Mongia has fluffed many an opportunity. Kaif has rarely grabbed any of the many opportunities he has been given. He can cringe about the revolving-door-policy that he has endured (and he has whined about it lately). However, there were many opportunities for him to stand up and be counted. He has fluffed them all and to me, doesn't look like a cricketer who wants to put his hand up when there is a fight going on. Similarly VVS. He is just not suited to the one-day caper. He can take his dodgy knee with him, settle himself on a couch and watch the proceedings from there instead of watching it from 1st slip, which is really the only place he prefers to be on a cricket field these days!
Party Patel Rohit Sharma, Badrinath, Ishant, Rajesh Pawar and Pujara are, one feels, just making up the numbers at this stage. So, in that sense, my "CERTAIN" and "MAYBE" self-select themselves by a process of elimination!
The trick is to then select 5 from the MAYBE list so that the final list has balance and strength: Balance in terms of experience, age, batting-bowling and agility; Strength in terms of capability, match-winning-ability, cool-headedness, maturity etc.
The 10 in my "CERTAIN" list includes 5 bowlers, 4 bats and 1 'keeper.
Yuvraj Singh has to go if he is fit.
My view is that this is a wake-up call for Sehwag and Pathan. They just have to work hard on their game and come back into the frame. They have to get hungry for success once again. I like the mean-edge to the selection. I also like the fact that, through the re-selections of Ganguly and Zaheer Khan, the selection committee has signalled strongly that "dropped does not mean dropped forever". Time is not on the side of Sehwag and Pathan. Unfortunately for them, nor are there any first class matches for either of them. But they just have to put in the hard yards and use their dropping as a spur to come back hungrier than ever.
Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik will fight it out in the first few games of the trial games against West Indies. I have a feeling that Raina will edge Karthik out...
The last place should, I feel, go to Joginder Sharma.
So the likely final XV could be:
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, S. Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Joginder Sharma.
Not a bad effort, in my view...