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Batting the Key to India's World Cup Success
[Cricket] Weakness in fielding will be exposed
Armstrong Vaz (armie)     Print Article 
Published 2007-02-21 07:49 (KST)   
In next month's Cricket World Cup, an experienced batting lineup will play a key role in India's success. So too will the bowling. But in fielding, India will be greatly exposed.

Let's take a closer look at the 15-man squad and what they role each of them are expected to perform in the Caribbean.

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First of all, each member of the squad by virtue of their current form is demanding a place in the playing eleven. So that is quite a headache for coach Greg Chappell. But it also argues well for the team as a whole as the competition for places will keep the players on their toes.

Management is happy with the return to form of middle order batsman Yuvraj Singh and destructive opener Virender Sehwag. The two will be an important part of India's potential success.

Sehwag has been through a lean phase and his knock of 44 in the last match against Sri Lanka should serve a morale booster for his confidence. He has played a major part of his career as an opener and only the slump in form had forced management to send him lower down in the order. Chappell has made it clear that he wants Sehwag at the top of the order for the World Cup.

Saurav Ganguly, another veteran, besides opening the batting will be in the role of the fifth bowler, which is also likely to be shared by three others: left arm spinner Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sehwag. So captain Rahul Dravid will have flexible choices on Caribbean wickets. According to Chappell, spin will play a crucial role in the World Cup.

Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh have also been tapped for the squad, but it remains to be seen which one will play in the final eleven. More than likely one of them will have to sit out, as happened at the last World Cup in South Africa.

India has quite a few pacemen: Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.

The vital clog will be the rejuvenated Khan. But let's not forget Munaf Patel. Serious doubts persist over all-rounder Pathan as to whether he will get into a groove as he is passing through a lean phase. Of the other pacers in the squad, Sreesanth has not been as consistent in one-day matches as he has been in the Tests and Coach Chappell has acknowledged as much.

Agarkar, who is to bowl first change, has not lived up to his potential and has not been consistent enough. The one knock that remains etched in memory is his Test century at Lord's. But with wickets in the West Indies likely to be of variable bounce, contributions from the lower order will be crucial to the team total, so Agarkar's batting will come in handy.

India has a very experienced batting lineup. Besides Sehwag and Ganguly at the top of the order, Tendulkar is in the number three spot. All three have thousands of runs and hundreds of matches under their belts.

Yuvraj Singh is in the middle rung of experience when it comes to Sachin, Dravid and Ganguly, who are likely to perform the destructive part of the innings in the 20-45 overs period, pushing up the run rate and unleashing the final onslaught on the opposing bowlers.

Captain Dravid is expected to hold the middle order together and rotate the strike and make things happen through his way of nudges and pushes to pick up ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking.

One man is expected to provide the fireworks and it is likely to be wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The man from the northern state of Jharkhand is known for his clean and big hitting of the ball and the team will look to his heroics to launch a platform for a big total.

Wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik is not expected to play much of a role expect unless, due to injury, he is called upon to take the role of a batsman.

That leaves out young rookie Robin Uthappa, who has been quite a revelation in the limited opportunities he has received in recent months. Whether management settles for the experience of Sehwag or goes in for the rookie remains to be seen.
Sehwag's form in the first few matches to come will be under consideration. A failure would see Uthappa upstaging him for the opener slot.

With such experience comes the age factor. Most of the seniors like Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly and Kumble are in their 30s.
With age catching up, fielding will be one area in which the Indians will be exposed. The agility of Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa and Harbhajan Singh will help but they will not be able to cover for others. With that in mind, Coach Chappell has suggested that India will need 30 extra runs and its bowlers must cut down on 30 runs when they are bowling.

Cricket fans in India are eagerly awaiting the World Cup. India has one only once, in 1983.

India's Squad

Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Armstrong Vaz

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