Monday, Jan 17 is D-Day for the Indian World Cup squad. India's selection committee will announce the country's pruned-down 15-member squad for the mega-event which is scheduled to begin on Fb 19. As the date of the big decision nears, speculation has been soaring over who are the players that will make the final cut.
Going down the line-up, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag are a pretty straight forward choice for the opening pair. Enough can not be said about their exploits at the top of the order, although they last opened togethr only in the Asia Cup in June, 2010. The two have been battling injuries for much of the last few months and the uncertainly of their sustainability spawns the necessity of a back-up opener.
Murali Vijay might fit the bill, but he only possess an average of 19.88 with a less-than-impressive strike rate of 64.62. He therefore, could be edged out by Parthiv Patel, who scored two-back-back fifties in India's ODI series against New Zealand. Shikhar Dhawan and Dinesh karthik, who are the other contenders for the opener's slot, don't appear to have much of shot.
Meanwhile, the in-form Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina are certainties for the middle-order positions, with Yuvraj Singh likely to dual it out with Saurabh Tiwary while Yusuf Pathan would most likely take on Rohit Sharma in a toss up.
Harbhajan's position as an off-spinning allrounder is definite, while Ami Mishra will find himself up against Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha for the other's spinner's slot. However, Ojha has a considerable edge over the former two simply by virtue of the fact he has played for India more consistently in recent times.
Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha seems likely to lose out to Parthiv Patel as the back-up gloveman's option as Patel also carries his experience as opener to back up his chances.
Finally, in the fast bowler's category, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Sreesanth appear to have the firmest chances of making the cut, while it will be a toss-up between Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar for the fourth seamer's position, as Ishant is likely to overlooked.
So thatsCricket's predictions for the World Cup 15 is as follows -
Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh,Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar
The World Cup is to be held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 19-April 2. India are placed in Group B in the preliminary phase along with co-hosts Bangladesh, England, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland and Netherlands. India and Bangladesh will kick off the tournament in the latter's backyard - at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.