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Men in Blue who matter at the T20 World Cup


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  #1  
Old 05-29-2009, 06:00 AM
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Default Men in Blue who matter at the T20 World Cup

India's squad for the first Twenty20 World Cup was a mixture of players who were on the comeback trail, some who were establishing themselves and



Indian players Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and MS Dhoni during their Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Christchurch. (Reuters Photo)

some about whom the world had very little idea.


It was astonishing therefore, when Dhoni & Co scaled the pinnacle. The combination this time though appears much, much stronger. TOI takes a peep at the super-strong 15-member squad.

MS Dhoni (captain)Age: 27
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Chennai
M-13; Runs-304; HS-58*; Avg-43.42;
SR-131.60; 50s-2

No other Indian captain has received as much fan fare as this man. There is a belief that Dhoni can do almost anything, including the impossible. So much gets written and spoken about his captaincy and man-management s****s that his batting and keeping gets forgotten. He is seriously good in both these departments too.

Virender Sehwag Age: 30
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Delhi
M-11; Runs-198; HS-50; Avg-19.80; SR-143.47

Didn't set the IPL on fire with his performances. Got injured and had to sit out and that affected his rhythm. But impact players like him are one innings away from returning to top form. The only problem for him is motivation. India's first two games are against Bangladesh and Ireland and he has a reputation of struggling against the minnows.

Gautam Gambhir Age: 27
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Delhi
M-15; Runs-286; HS-71*; Avg-22.00; SR-102.87

Had a brilliant season till the IPL began and then strangely went off the boil. But Twenty20 is very much his forte and his ability to walk down the track and hit the bowlers over the top psyches them out. In England, where the ball will swing and seam in June, that tactic will also prove to be handy as it will negate movement.

Harbhajan Singh Age: 28
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Mumbai Indians
M-13; Best-4/17; Avg-21.33; Eco-5.81; SR-22.0

Is in top form, but wasn't used very smartly by Sachin Tendulkar. If the pitches in England have a bit of moisture as is expected, he will get some help. Has adapted his bowling well to T20 and his faster one is a great tool. Don't discount his big hitting which may come in handy lower down.

Ravindra Jadeja Age: 20
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Jaipur
M-13; Runs-295; HS-42; Avg-26.81; SR-110.90
Bowling: M-13; Wkts-6; Best-3/15;
Avg-25.16; Eco-6.47

Was one of the mainstays for Team Jaipur. He can strike the big blows and rotate the strike well. His left-arm-spin is underrated, but can cause havoc. Watch out for him in the field. His quick-silver fielding in square-off positions can trigger run outs. Is a safe catcher too.

Zaheer Khan
Age: 30
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Mumbai Indians
M-6; Wkts-6; Best-3/31; Avg-23.66;
SR-21.00; Eco-6.76

Got injured at a vital time in the IPL as he looked to be in very good form and great rhythm. He will return to the country where he rediscovered his zest for bowling and reinvented himself after being shabbily treated by the Chappell regime. He can strike in the powerplays and apply the squeeze by bowling yorkers in the death. Can strike meaty blows low down the order too.

Praveen Kumar Age: 22
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Royal Challengers
M-13; Wkts-13; Best-3/30; Avg-30.30;
Eco-7.93; SR-22.90

Will love English conditions as he is a swing bowler. Has the knack of getting wickets in his first over. Has a good yorker and slower one.

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Old 05-29-2009, 06:01 AM
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Pragyan Ojha Age: 22
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Hyderabad
M-15; Wkts-18; Best-3/21; Avg-19.33;



Indian players Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and MS Dhoni during their Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Christchurch. (Reuters Photo)

Eco-6.50



The young left-arm spinner first come into the limelight at last season's IPL, and to his credit, Ojha has done well to keep himself in the fray with consistent performances. A smooth action allows Ojha to flight the ball well and exploit any available turn. Within the team, he faces competition for a slot with Ravindra Jadeja, who can bat much, much better than him.

Irfan Pathan Age: 24
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Kings XI Punjab
M-14; Runs-196; HS-39; Avg-19.60, SR-124.05
Bowling: Wkts-17; Best-3/35;
Avg-22.94; Eco-7.74

The swing and the pace may still not be like what it was back in 2003-04, but Irfan still remains a very good bowler, primarily because of the confidence with which he performs in crunch moments. His heroics in the previous T20 World Cup did much to put his career back on track. In conditions that aid swing and seam, Pathan could be a huge asset. Ideal man at the death with the bat too.

Yusuf Pathan Age: 26
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Jaipur
M-13; Runs-243; HS-62*;
Avg-20.25, SR-132.78
Bowling: Wkts-7; Best-3/34;
Avg-34.71; Eco-6.94

Team Jaipur's lethal weapon brings in brute power and ruthlessness to a glittering batting line-up. Shane Warne feels Yusuf is the best hitter of the cricket ball since Andrew Symonds and the leg-spin legend isn't way off the mark. Can be used a floater in the batting order. Can be more than useful with the ball.

Suresh Raina Age: 22
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Chennai
M-14; Runs-434; HS-98; Avg-31.00, SR-140.90
Bowling: Wkts-7; Best-2-17;
Avg-23.42; Eco-5.92

His awesome strokeplay is fast elevating Raina into a select group of batsmen whom bowlers fear in world cricket. Has done superbly well ever since recovering from an injury that forced him to fade away after a promising start. Has grabbed all the opportunities that came his way both in the IPL and with the Indian team where skipper MS Dhoni trusts him with the crucial No. 3 position.

Ishant Sharma
Age: 20
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Knight Riders
M-11; Wkts-11; Best-2-15; Avg-27.00; Eco-6.90

Hasn't been at his best in the IPL, but Ishant is a great bowler and expect him to fire on all cylinders during this summer. One only has to ask Australian captain Ricky Ponting about his class! On pace-friendly English wickets, Ishant may just get his bite back. After an ordinary IPL season, the tall pacer would be only too keen to bounce back in style.

Rohit Sharma Age: 22
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Hyderabad
M-16; Runs-362; HS-52; Avg-27.84, SR 114.92
Bowling: Wkts-11; Best-4/6;
Avg-14.63; Eco-7.00

He emerged as probably the most dangerous finisher this IPL, but there's another aspect about his cricket that's been recently discovered. They are his gentle off-breaks which appear innocuous but can suck a batsman into playing a false stroke. Sharma's career took off with the first T20 WC, but with the competition getting stiffer and his own form not being consistent, things haven't been all too perfect for this Mumbai youngster. He must surely be eyeing this tournament as a vehicle to stake a permanent claim for a berth.

RP Singh Age: 23
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Team Hyderabad
M-16; Wkts-23; Best-4/22; Avg-18.13; Eco-6.98

Arguably the bowler of this season's IPL, RP would be looking to carry his form to England. The left-arm seamer was superb during India's last tour of England, bowling the perfect line and length for those conditions. His IPL exploits will surely lead to other teams studying him in more detail. With Zaheer recovering from an injury, RP could well turn out to India's trump card with the ball. Can he turn out to be the bowler of T20 WC too?

Yuvraj Singh Age: 27
IPL 2009 stats: Played for Kings XI Punjab
M-14; Runs-340; HS-58*; Avg-28.33; SR: 115.64
Bowling: Wkts-6; Best-3/13;
Avg-23.66; Eco-7.10

Wasn't at his best in the IPL. Probably the burden of captaincy had something to do with it. Here, with that responsibility in Dhoni's hands, Yuvi will just have his batting to bother about. The previous World Cup saw the classy left-hander smash six sixes in an over, and the fans will be expecting him to sizzle in this edition as well. His left-arm spin, buoyed by the two hat-tricks that he netted in the IPL, is a dangerous weapon as well.
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