March 26, 2010

A team for the World Twenty20

Who should India pick? Here's a likely XI

When India's selectors sit down to pick the team for the ICC World Twenty20 they will have to choose between form and class. It is not an easy choice, for in an ideal world both would go together. But it is a contest in which class must prevail, and the selectors must hope that Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, in particular, use the month available to become match-winners again.

The selectors must decide on eight batsmen and seven bowlers. They cannot compromise by picking fewer bowlers on the assumption that on some days the batsmen will chip in, because on days they don't, the game could be lost. Of those eight batsmen, two should be wicketkeepers, and India are well served in this area since both those can play as batsmen. Ideally two of them should be able to bowl. Similarly, of the seven bowlers picked, two must hold their own with the bat. That will give the team the balance that Twenty20 cricket demands.

Now let's see what we have and pick the players who walk in. Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Raina, Yuvraj (class over form), Yusuf Pathan, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan. Now that is only nine and straightaway the first problem becomes apparent. Where are the bowlers? You need five seamers and two spinners, so let's start shortlisting those.

The options with seamers are Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, RP Singh and Vinay Kumar. None of them bat, and though Zaheer can swing his bat a bit and Praveen Kumar can provide a few bonus runs here and there, it isn't good enough. And so I'm going to go a bit left field and insist that Irfan Pathan be in the side. I believe he has a huge amount to contribute, and it helps that he is willing to do anything a captain asks him to.

I have been a bit surprised by the way Kumar Sangakkara has used him for the King's XI. At Pathan's current pace I am not sure he can bowl the first over, or indeed the last three, where he can become predictable. I believe his place in the side is as a fifth bowler and lower-order batsman, and in that role he bowls largely in the middle overs.

So with him as the 10th player, we need to look at three seamers. Praveen must be one. Nehra could be a second if he his fit, and then you choose between Sreesanth, RP and Ishant. Neither is in any kind of form and it is one of those decisions where you go with the captain's gut feel. But RP is probably best equipped.

The second spinner is relatively easier to choose, since a left-armer is good value in this format. The top two spinners of that variety in India at the moment are Murali Kartik and Pragyan Ojha, but given that our seamers don't bat, that place will need to go to an allrounder and therefore to Ravindra Jadeja, who is clearly the third best spinner out of three. But he is good value in this format and so he becomes player No. 14.

The most contentious issue would be to assign the last batting spot. I believe there are four strong batting contenders: Manish Pandey, Virat Kohli, Robin Uthappa and Rohit Sharma, each of whom comes with strong skills. If you want a back-up for Gambhir and Sehwag, then I guess Pandey is the man; if a back-up for Yuvraj to bat in the middle overs (as many as there are), then Kohli could be the player, and if the selectors are looking for a strong finisher then either of Uthappa or Sharma, both of whom can bat anywhere in the order. Eventually it will be the captain's call but it is a dead heat for me.

I don't think India will start favourites given current form and possible fatigue (though that can only be as much of an excuse as a sales representative complaining after 20 days on the road), but I believe this playing XI will give India the best possible chance. In batting order: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan .

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shadab on March 29, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    sehwag, pandey, dhoni, raina, yuvraj, harbhajan, zaheer, yusuf, praveen, rohit, irfan/jadeja

  • aditya on March 29, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    I am certain about the fact that Irfan should quit his Indian citizenship and seek a citizenship either in Pakistan or Afghanistan who will give him the right respect he deserves. I bet his frustration level is as sky rocketing as his current form. Signs which are obviouslly ignored by our selectors. One would have anticipated Irfan walking into the side without any hitches, but our man 'Sri-Canth' has proved a major obstacle. He perhaps doesn't realise how important it is to have a pacer allrounder like Irfan in the side.he is perhaps even better than Abdul Razzak (Pkaistan) I might sound evil but I pray to god that India perform its ever worst so that the selection commity gets another yet makeover for a better future. And i also pray that Nehra and Vinay Kumar get a chance to show how they would get walloped by the classy players.

  • sanjay on March 29, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    My Playing eleven- Batsman- Shewag,Gambhir,Raina,Yuvraj,Dhoni, Allrounder- Yusuf ,Irfan,Jadeja Bowler- Zahir,Praveen and Harbhajan.

    Extra three-Viany kumar,Manish Pandey & Murli Kartik.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2010, 10:26 GMT

    I dont Know wats wrong with the srikanth...when south africa was in india for the test series and the team was selected for the match and which was very crucial match for the position of 1st place and this srikanth given the worst team and that we lost the first match also this crack making same mistake even gautam gambhir is not suitable for 20twenty instead of gautam manish pandey is the best goes my team virendar sehwag,manish pandey,robin uthappa,dinesh kartik,yuvraj singh,ms dhoni,suresh raina,irfan pathan,yusuf pathan,ravindra jadeja,vinay kumar,zaheer khan,harbhajan singh,piyush chawla,siddharth trivedi. i challenge the selected team by the management will not bring good result in the twenty20 anyone can...

  • Karthick on March 27, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    I agree, the team that Harsha selected will be a good..

  • Rajat on March 27, 2010, 18:20 GMT

    Team B (16 members)- Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Manoj Tiware, Virat Kohli,Sourabh Tiwary, Shikhar Dhawan, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan, M Karthik, Amit Mishra, L Balaji, sumit narwal, Ishant, Umesh Yadav, PP Ojha, SK Trivedi

    Bowler choose based their utility score as per - (wickets * 10/ Overs)* (10/avg)*(10/Econ)... (IP L stat till 26th Mar)... plus some personal likings...

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    My 15 Man Squad : Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, Robin Utthappa, Virat Kohli,Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar....Extras : Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthick, Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha IF INDIA WANT TO WIN T20 WORLD CUP ITS BEST PLAYER

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    Why is RP Singh in the list?He has not been part of the Indian team in a long time and his performance in IPL just shows why!Also,I can never understand why Irfan Pathan, MOM of the T20 final 2007 is NOT part of the team.Guess Dhoni still has issues with him, after his RP vs pathan spat!Manish Pandey and Virat Kohli deserved a chance ahead of Rohit Sharma.Again,Dhoni can give the "Most of the players were injured" excuse when they lose like last time!

  • girish on March 27, 2010, 10:58 GMT


  • Mohit on March 27, 2010, 4:04 GMT

    I quite go by Harsha's words. His team is probably the best to bring back the pride. All of this provided the top order fires. Yes, Manish Pandey is too naive as of now and he could have easily won his place for experimenting if any of the top orders were injured or unavailable for some reason. If it was not for Dinesh Karthik in the actual squad picked, it would have damn surely been Robin for his excellent batting tactics and can also be a helping hand with the gloves behind the stumps. Indian Baord must find themselves to be lucky to be in a situation to pick from so much talent. Sadly, India hasn't been able to produce bowlers with THAT sting element in them over the years. Blame it on the pitches in India. But for this sort of a format, its just on THAT day, how the bowlers bowl. He gets no time to recover and in no time his four are gone. 24 good balls from Zaheer, Bhajji, Praveen, Jadeja and thenbetween Yuvraj, Rohit, Raina and Yusuf is gonna be a tough ask seeing their form now

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