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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cricket: Team India-15 For World Cup-2015!



Finally ending a lot of speculation and suspense about the possible heroes who could bring home the third World Cup title the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today in Mumbai announced the 15-member Team India for the World Cup-2015 that starts in Australia and New Zealand from 14th February. Team selection has not thrown up many surprises and was mostly on expected or speculated lines. Focus on a Young Team India continued to prioritize the selection and most of cricket experts agree that the team is indeed a balanced one. However, there are a few ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ as always.

Yuvraj Singh, the hero of the World Cup-2011 victory in Mumbai, did not get the nod despite his current good record in domestic cricket. Two factors—his recent performances abroad and his age—most probably went against him. BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said in the press conference that there was a discussion on Yuvraj’s selection.  Rohit Sharma who recently hit the highest ever ODI (One Day International) score of 264 against Sri Lanka and dashing Shikhar Dhawan were approved for the opening slot. Murali Vijay who has been playing well in Australia for the Test Series and is getting used to the conditions was ignored as a reserve opener thanks to his poor record in ODIs and that he last played his ODI as far back as in July 2013.  For being a better batter and a reserve wicketkeeper Ambati Rayudu got the nod ahead of Robin Uthapa who too holds a good record in IPL and domestic cricket.

The selection of Stuart Binny came as bit of a surprise. His all-round ability to bat and to swing the ball could perhaps be the considerations to include him in lieu of another specialist batsman. Ravindra Jadeja too filled in the all-rounder slot despite his injury. The BCCI secretary justified his selection saying that the player would be fit in 10 days. Ishant Sharma, the second in the injury list, joins Bhuveneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav in the seamers’ list of four considering the fact that even four could be played in some of the fast pitches of Australia and New Zealand. Rookie spinner Axar Patel could not be ignored thanks to his outstanding domestic record and he completes the spinning trio with Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja. Who knows pitches could turn there too.

All the stalwarts—Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan etc—of the 2011 World Cup triumph are absent in the squad for World Cup 2015.  Except for captain MS Dhoni, vice captain Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Ashwin it will be the young players with varying levels of experience and excellence who would bear the responsibility of fulfilling the expectations of a billion of Indian cricket fans. No doubt, quite a few of the exciting young cricketers are match winners.

Team India-15: MS Dhoni (c & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Umesh Yadav.

Excitement and suspense are going to rage from 14th February to 29th March with 49 big matches to be played. However, the disappointing format again leaves out Super Eight stage. In each Group the teams would play each other only once, and only from quarter final stage the teams from Group A and B would start meeting one another. Team India opens with a blockbuster against Pakistan in Adelaide on February 15. 
                                                                              Wait, Watch, Enjoy and Celebrate! 
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