The World T20 Tournament begins in early June and last week India announced the side that will wear their colors. It is as follows:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni ( Captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir,Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma,Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, R.P.Singh, Ravindra Jadeja , Pragyan Ojha and Irfan Pathan.
This represents only two changes from the side that played two T20 matches against New Zealand in April. R.P.Singh returns in place of Munaf Patel while al-rounder Irfan Pathan replaces reserve wicket keeper Dinesh Kartik. Indian fans are rarely 100% pleased with the team selection but , this time , there is little they can find fault with. R.P Singh was a big part of the pace attack two years ago but his career had been sidetracked by injuries and a sudden loss of form. His performances in the IPL indicate that he ‘s all the way back . His inclusion is doubly welcome because he replaces the lackadaisical Munaf. About Irfan Pathan, I am of two minds. In the recent IPL matches, Irfan has turned in some great performances and an equal number of indifferent displays. He just cannot be relied upon because one never knows which Irfan will turn up on a given day.Let’s hope he makes the most of his opportunity. The selectors have taken a huge gamble in dropping Dinesh Karthik as this leaves M.S. Dhoni as the lone wicketkeeper . There isn’t anyone else in the side who can keep wickets in case of injury. Dhoni has so far been an Iron Man but all Indian cricket fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that nothing untoward happens to him. One other selection I’m ambivalent about is Rohit Sharma who, it seems to me , is more suited to the Test arena rather than the crash -bang-wallop of T20. Anyway, here’s wishing the side the best of luck as they try to retain the World T20 title that they won in such thrilling fashion two years ago in South Africa.
The Indian side appears to be quite a formidable outfit. Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni himself are all capable of taking any attack apart, Jadeja and Irfan Pathan are good if erratic allrounders and the bowling attack headed by Zaheer and Harbhajan should be upto the task. In addition,Dhoni is probably one of the two best captains in the world. How far the team goes will depend on how well it fields. Inspite of all the efforts of Robin Singh, the fielding , while slightly improved, is still the team’s weak point. If only they can hold on to their catches and look sharp with their ground fielding, they should be able to beat back the challenge South Africa and Australia, the main threats to win it all.
The IPL : is more than halfway through but somehow, I cannot summon up much interest. One reason is that I’m on cricket overload what with the almost non-stop schedule of the Indian team. The other is that I cannot get interested in these multi-national teams. As a result I haven’t signed up with Willow TV for the IPL coverage and am merely following it desultorily on CricInfo. I will be signing up for the World T20 Tv coverage because that’s something I can get enthused about.
About Dhoni’s captaincy I can’t say enough. In addition to getting the best out of his players and setting an example with his sterling play ( he switches gears effortlessly depending on what the situation demands) , Dhoni has the happy knack of making exactly the right move at the right time. The latest example was his tossing the ball to Suresh Raina, a part time spinner, at a crucial juncture in the match against the Rajasthan Royals. This after Rajasthan had pasted the regular bowlers, Albie Morkel and Mutthiah Muralitharan, and were threatening to run away with the match. Raina proceeded to bowl two economical overs conceeding only 8 runs and Chennai squeaked out a win. Another feather in Dhoni’s cap !