India named its 12-member team for the 4th ODI against the Windies to be played today (31 January 2007). There are few surprises. And as I suggested a few days back, the team management appears to be slowly honing in on a final combination. Dravid stated yesterday that the team management has more or less pencilled in 17-18 players from which the final 15 that will travel to the World Cup will be chosen. To me, the big surprise in this statement was that both Kumble and Harbhajan would go to the Windies and that Powar will need to fight it out with a pace bowler for a spot in the 15-member team!
It is clear that the team management have invested a lot of faith in Irfan Pathan. In that sense, Pathan seems to be a certainty to go to the Windies. One certainly hopes that Pathan can deliver. Dravid also confirmed that Ganguly and Uthappa will open.
So, the 12-member team for the 4th ODI (in possible batting order) is:
1. Saurav Ganguly, 2. Robin Uthappa, 3. Irfan Pathan, 4. Sachin Tendulkar, 5. Rahul Dravid, 6. Yuvraj Singh, 7. M. S. Dhoni, 8. Ajit Agarkar, 9. Harbhajan Singh, 10. Anil Kumble, 11. Zaheer Khan, [12th man] Dinesh Karthik
I suspect Dinesh Karthik will carry the drinks. He would also field after Kumble finishes his quota and runs of feigning a non-existent injury!
I would certainly advocate Pathan coming in at #3 in the batting order.
Again, the absence of Virender Sehwag is quite telling. If, as I had suggested the other day, Sehwag were to occupy the #6 position, just after Yuvraj Singh, the composition would look a lot more balanced and even... But then, perhaps the thinking in the team is that Sehwag would be in competition with Irfan Pathan for the #3 spot.
Either way, given Dravid's comments on Sreesanth it looks like the final XV would be the 12 chosen for this match plus Virender Sehwag, [either Romesh Powar or Sreesanth], Munaf Patel. Munaf Patel appears a sure look-in given the positive comments expressed by Dravid. The team seems to be pinning a heck of a lot of hopes on Munaf Patel (moreover, the other pace bowlers have been sent home). Given his propensity to break down at crucial times, this choice is a potentially risky proposition. But it looks as if the team management has painted itself into some sort of a corner here.