Indian team for the ODI series in West Indies, which starts on 18th of May was announced yesterday and lets be assured that - at least 50 to 60% of these players will be representing in the World Cup as well. According to me, seven of this Indian squad for the 2006 tour of West Indies will be unchanged when India goes to west Indies again in March 2007.
1) Rahul Dravid :- He was given the captaincy when Greg Chappell openly raised questions about Sourav Ganguly's place in Team India. Rahul Dravid has been the single cricketer in Indian team who never ever lost his form nor backed away from taking added responsibilities. I remember him bowling "offspinners" when he struggled to match the pace of One day batting.... and we all have seen him keeping wickets for a long time when Indian team didn't had a good enough Batting wicket-keeper.
Now when he is captaining India, he still is ready to face any challenge - be it opening the batting or taking tough decisions like playing 5 bowlers in a test or one day team.... O boy, Rahul Dravid is surely a great man. I salute him and wish him good luck.
2) Virendra Sehwag :- Let me tell you frankly that I am not a big fan of Sehwag. Many times he has given me feeling that he should have batted with more responsibility, but he throws his wicket. Moreover, he don't really match the standard of fielding that Team India Possesses these days...
BUT, In simple words - Virendra Sehwag is a gamble that Indian team should take in the World Cup. We will be playing around 10 matches before the Semi-finals, and even if Sehwag fires in 3 matches, we will win those matches without any problem. And this tour of West Indies will be a good test for him. If he can manage some good innings on West Indies pitches, our World Cup chances will be on..!!
3) Yuvraj Singh :- I remember Maninder Singh - former left arm spinner and now a commentator, always criticizing Yuvraj for not showing his full potential that he is capable of. I didn't really use to understand what Maninder was asking from Yuvraj when he played good Innings time to time.
But now I do. And I am sure you understand as well. Yuvraj was young and flashy. Now he is matured and responsible. The way he is batting these days, Team India's middle order seems really dangerous and this West Indies tour should give him much needed experience of Caribbean pitches.
4) Mahendra Singh Dhoni :- This man is our "ACE" for the World Cup. We all know he is a more than OK wicket keeper and ICC No.1 Batsman In ODIs right now, but what most people don't know is his ability to adapt to the situation of a cricket match. Read on..
He has developed special shots for Yorker length balls, which helps him dominate bowling in the slog overs. He takes no backlift and hits the yorker ball very hard back on the ground with his heavy bat, and believe me - these shots will really work well in near future and produce results... And let me tell you that this is the reason why Irfan Pathan comes at No. 3 while Mahendra Singh Dhoni is always kept for the later over - his ability to hit yorkers for a six.
Recently in the DLF CUP at Abu Dhabi - Dhoni showed some extraordinary shots in which he was hitting a leg side ball hard on its way and ball kept on crossing the fine leg boundary. He is an exceptional talent and surely our trump card for the World Cup. This India's tour of West Indies will be good learning process for him as he has batted only on sub-continent wickets so far. But I am sure he will come good there as well as he also has good Pull/Hook shots.
5) Irfan Pathan - Few people in this world are born with exceptional talent and few with lots of luck. But if you want an example with both benefits, try Irfan Pathan. Here's the reason -
When he made his debut for India, it was In Australia. Wasim Akram, the greatest one day bowler was there to do the commentary for Channel - ESPN and he gave all his secrets to young Irfan Pathan, who was absolutely similar to his bowling style. I have been listening to Wasim Akram for a long time now and has been watching Irfan Pathan ever since he first played for India - he is India's Wasim Akram people with just one thing missing - those lethal yorkers!!
But that is compensated with Irfan's ability with the bat. Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell work on one simple funda - Opportunities for youngsters and Irfan Pathan has been the biggest beneficiary. I remember Ajit Agarkar having the same batting ability as Irfan has, but he never had the care for his batting nor the opportunities. But Irfan has had his chances and proved his batting skills as well. He is the World third best All rounder right now.... what else should I write about his golden boy of Indian team..??
6) Shanthakumaran Sreesanth :- They say that the bowler who can swing the ball, will have good time on West Indies pitches as wickets have become slower there with passing time and bounce has reduced considerably. S Sreesanth not only can swing the ball, but also has the right attitude for a fast bowler. He probably is the only bowler in International cricket right now who bowls both from close the stumps and wide of it. The angle he produces by going wide of stumps has always troubled batsmen (specially Pakistani) and now its turn of West Indies batsmen.
One last thing that I would like to reveal about Sreesanth is that every time he reaches his bowling mark, he tells himself - "You can do it Sreesanth, you are the best". He says this helps him in being confident and increases his self belief that he can get the batsmen out.... nice, isn't it!!
Rest of the Indian team for the 2006 tour of West Indies is -
(although these players are highly talented and have the ability to be in the Indian team for the World Cup, I feel they should be tried for a little more time)
7) Suresh Raina,
8) Mohammad Kaif,
9) Robin Uthappa,
10) Y Venugopal Rao.
11) Ajit Agarkar,
12) Ramesh Powar,
13) Harbhajan Singh,
14) R P Singh,
But wait a minute, I said 7 players are confirmed for the Indian World Cup team.... where's the 7th one....
Sachin Tendulkar (not in one day team for the West Indies tour) :-
He is at home and away from cricket. His final fitness test will be on 10th of May and most probably he will be back into Indian team for the Test Matches in West Indies. But don't worry folks, he will be back. And with a bang. I need not say too much about this "Little master" of Indian cricket. But if you have any doubts, consider this - Sachin Tendulkar has played on 52 different pitches all over the World in test cricket and made runs on 89 different pitches in ODI cricket. He is the only batsman in the whole world to have made a half century of "Man of the Match" awards. If you see the record books of cricket World Cups - Sachin Tendulkar has played second most number of Matches and has scored most runs than any other International batsman - 1732 in 29 World Cup matches at an average of 59.72. He will be playing his 5th World Cup - the most by any cricketer, equal to Javed Miadad of Pakistan.
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