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Level playing field in West Indies
by Sreelata Yellamrazu
Feb 23, 2007
All the injuries and shock defeats may just mean it may not be a predictable World Cup after all. India may be riding a high wave but there are many teams who could say the same.

India's main issue is that not all players have had a sufficient run in into the World Cup. Some will now have to make do with the warm up matches. Irfan Pathan may be warming the benches now that Zaheer Khan has come into his own. While Virender Sehwag is showing signs of wanting to come back into the team eleven on the simple basis of his batting form. Chappell is quoted to have said that playing Sehwag lower down the order was, if it can be allowed, some bizarre form of reverse psychology to motivate the latter to want to lay a stake to the opening slot that he had made his own not a while ago.

The deck seems to be dealing cards in fours again! While Sourav Ganguly now appears a permanent fixture in the opening slot, reservations have been raised about elevating Ganguly’s former opening mate, Sachin Tendulkar, up the order with the intention to create a greater balance in the middle order. That leaves Sehwag and the man who seems to be making a nomination of himself in every possible category, Robin Uthappa. So, does taking credit imply that Chappell has seen enough to bring back the order of old. How then does India get Uthappa at his best? After all, if there is one other player besides Dinesh Karthik who has performed outstandingly to merit a place on his genuine performance, it is Uthappa.

The only obvious advantage team India has is that it will never run out of reserve wicket keepers!

There are no less than four credible wicketkeeper-batsmen in the side. Find it hard to believe? Take the larger than life Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Add the skipper’s credentials in the role as well. Then count Dinesh Karthik who missed out on the role of the premier keeper in the side but has made a huge impact as a praiseworthy middle order batsman and has won merit in the fifteen on his one skill alone. Now include the dashing opening batsman who has taken over the role with gusto. That’s right, Robin Uthappa can well stake a claim to take on the dual role, should it come to that.

There is plenty of time still for the World Cup to commence and everyone seems to be making the most of the news bytes while they are still healthy. But there still seems a fair bit of tweaking to do to find the best team on the day.

After all, the game now appears wide open with South Africa elevated to number one but that will have no bearing on the draw. England is suddenly looking like serious contender and the three times bridesmaids may just want to change it all. The same could perhaps be said for New Zealand who looks like one team whose entire batting order appears to have struck form on the way to slamming their neighbours.

But wait, there is still Sri Lanka in the fray who even after losing the series in India appears too strong to ignore. Then there is the question of the hosts. West Indies, baptized under Brian Lara’s third stint at captaincy, look a well knit unit that is unafraid to change the odds of the jinx of a home team World Cup victory.

We cannot of course rule out mercurial Pakistan, with or without Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar who refuse to leave the sports pages! Did we forget someone? Oh yes, Australia. And the teams would dare not do that at the World Cup!

 
More Views by Sreelata Yellamrazu
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