By Dinakar Srikonda

A fortnight ago, Woyimyakon( Vladivostokh), a small town with a population of around 500 people in Russia recorded a record temperature of -61.2 degrees Celsius which was the second lowest temperature in this millennium with the earlier being -64.5C in 2002 here. Same was the case with the mercury levels in the Indian sub continent till a few days back. All of a sudden there was a change in the climate for the past three to four days with the hot and humid waves replacing the cool and dry breeze in the sub continental region posing a million dollar question to weather monitoring department. They wondered whether it would be due to the impact of El-Nino or La-Nino in the eastern pacific coast, but they could not find the answer for the same since the reason being the intangible emotional factor rather than the tangible physical factor, courtesy- the launching of the official countdown for the ICC world cup 2011 by its President Sharad Pawar and CEO Haroon Lorgat a couple of days back. The cricket fever is on in the country with the population of over 100 crores creating a sort of local warming a la global warming phenomenon in the sub continental region expressing a strong solidarity with the statement of Sir Geffery  Boycott – “Every thing else is rubbish it has got to be cricket first”.   

It was clearly noticeable as the informal discussions at the offices and bus stops are about the team composition and everybody fancying their chances with the confidence on their favorite teams and players. Coming to the team composition of Indian cricket team, the batting order comprising of Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Raina and Dhoni is the best batting line up in the world with over 47000 runs between them out of which four players of over 5000 runs each including the most experienced player in the world, no need to mention- with over 17000 runs to his credit can cause nightmares to the bowlers of the opposition. There was a tough fight between Rohit and kohli for the berth of extra batsmen in the squad of 15members, which went in favour of kohli, who deserves a place in the team because of his consistency. Rohit, who has loads of talent failed in converting the same in to runs given a lot of chances, has to sit out. There was no competition for the lone slot of all rounder (Not really, but at least for the sake of our satisfaction) and the unanimous choice was that of Yousuf , who can use his long handle down the order and send down a few overs with his right arm spin. The bowling department, not as lethal as the batting order, but still having the ammunition to penetrate the opposition is sphere headed by the experienced Zaheer-considered to be one of the most consistent bowlers in the current crocketing world, Nehra- the best bowler at the death with his full toss / yorkers, Munaf- a lanky promising bowler with a fine run in the recent tour of South Africa and Praveen- for his craft and control over the swing and his giant killing slow bal prevailed over Sreesanth, with his ability to  reverse swing the old ball and his fine run in recent times could not impress the selectors just for his inconsistency. But, Praveen who sustained an elbow injury during the South Africa ODI series failed to recuperate in time and was ruled out after it became clear that he won’t be fit by the time India play their first match against Bangladesh. Selection Committee has picked S Sreesanth as Praveen Kumar’s replacement in the Indian team for the tournament.The surprising element was to go with three spinners in Harbhajan, Ashwin and Chawla, which is an attacking move by the selectors.With his vast experience of producing a doosra and his aggression both with the bat and ball Harbhajan leads the spin attack while Chawla, a leg spinner with the googlie as his potent weapon can be deadly in deceiving the batsmen with his incoming delivery. Inspite of his fine run in recent times and the ability to bowl in the power plays with the carom ball, Ashwin in the form of an additional off spinner looks to be an unwanted selection given the no. of part time sloe bowlers in the side in Sehwag, Yuvraj, Raina, Yousuf and even Sachin for that matter. Instead of going for an extra spinner in the form of Ashwin, it would have been better to go with an additional wicket keeper batsmen in either karthik or parthiv as Dhoni, with his past record of injuries and fitness problems is the lone wicket keeper in the side. Leaving that apart the selectors did a neat job in selecting the best available team for the world cup. 

Being a patriot India will be the first choice in the list of favorites for the champions, but a rational guess includes South Africa, Australia and Srilanka as the other teams with equal chances in the list. I every thin goes according to the script with out any great surprises / giant killing episodes India, South Africa, England and West Indies form pool B and Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand from pool A reach the quarter final out of which India, South Africa, Australia and Srilanka reach the semifinals and from then onwards it is a real tough fight. If South Africa could break their chokers jinx in the semi final then no body, barring India can stop them from winning the world cup this time. But “cricket is a game of great uncertainties” So friends keep on fancying your chances in guessing the champions of this edition. Last but not the least; let the spirit of the gentle men’s game prevail across the event. 

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