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Sight Screen

Monday, July 18, 2005

Team time

The PM has arrived for the pre-talks ceremonial reception on the White House lawns... blogging is, for the duration of his stay here, likely to be a sporadic affair.
Ohe quick post, though, to take note of the team for the Sri Lanka tri-series.
No surprises, surely? With Saurav Ganguly stymied by Judge Sachs' schedule (and it is no way certain the ban will be overturned, in fact, likely not), Rahul Dravid was always likely to lead. Interestingly, I see no mention of a vice captain having been named -- very unusual on a foreign tour, the possible explanation being the selectors are still waiting for the Ganguly decision.
Not sure why -- suppose Sachs overturns the ban, what, they make SG the vice captain? Surely they cannot, having named RD for the role for the series, axe him... all of which makes me wonder why the team does not have a deputy.
Laxman back in the side was also a given, with SRT not available for picking. Be interesting to see how Dravid hides him in the field -- or uses the supersub option to rotate him out once he has done his bit with the bat, presumably in the number three or four slot.
A surprise of sorts is Ashish Nehra making the cut, because recent reports out of Bangalore suggested he was not 100 per cent fit; equally surprising was the flat-out omission of Dinesh Mongia, who has been riding a more than decent county season in which he did enough with bat and ball to merit consideration, at least as part of the bench.
Against that, Raina and JP Yadav are interesting picks, both on the basis of domestic form (Venugopal Rao ditto, but I don't really see him playing much of a role in this series, do you?). Raina in particular seems supersub material -- he is a free-stroking batsman who can be rotated in happen we are chasing a big one; equally, he bowls tight-ish off-spin, and could come in handy when we are defending, rotating in for say Laxman.
What's your pick for the playing XI? I would, form and fitness being a given, go with Sehwag, Dhoni, Laxman (If you are picking the guy, bat him at three -- any lower, and he is a misfit), Dravid, Kaif, Yuvraj, Pathan, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Balaji and JP Yadav, with Raina as supersub. (Kumble in for Yadav, if the pitch is obviously spin-friendly, otherwise, I'd depend on Yuvraj and Sehwag to fill in with a few overs.
Right, that is 6 batsmen and five bowlers (with Pathan in particular expected to play a solid role with the bat). Not quite coventional -- but imagine the options it gives you.
If you are bowling first, you have the firepower to keep the target within manageable limits. If you are batting first, and if the openers blaze away, you may likely not need an extra batsman; if you do, you can always slip Raina in. To a large extent, you thus negate the importance of the toss, no?
Be good to hear your thoughts... will be back here a few hours from now, once the PM-inspired buzz dies down a bit.

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