Know more about your WC squad...

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 9:08 [IST]
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Know more about your WC squad...

We all know them as an elite group of players that have made it into the final XV for the World Cup 2011. But now it's time to strip away some of the mystique which makes these cricketers larger than life. Here is our little tribute to India's cricketing heroes and a gentle reminder that they engage in life off the field as well, whether it is an philanthropists, or restaurateurs or businessmen or even occasionally as bad boys. Find out a little more about your world cup squad...

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain)
Date of Birth: Jul 9, 1981
Height: 5'9"
ODI Debut: 2004
Batting Average: 48.80
Strike Rate: 87.80
Stumpings: 57
Catches: 174
Easily one of the most successful captains India has produced, M S Dhoni has lead India to more than a handful of cups and series wins, most notably the 2007 World Twenty20 in South Africa, as well as India's first ever bilateral series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. He is a middle-order stalwart and possesses the highest average for any current Indian batsman in ODIs. His batting style is unique as he plays from the backfoot with an accentuated bottom hand grip with minimum foot movement.

Among interesting tid-bits of personal trivia about "Mahi" is the fact that while he's regarded as Jharkhand's favourite son, his family's native place is in Uttarakhand. Dhoni has a penchant for anything mobile with particular weakness for high-speed motorbikes, owning a collection of 23. Before Dhoni embarked on his cricketing career, he was a very capable badminton and soccer player, featuring as goalie for his team at district and club level. He grew his hair to resemble his favourite actor - John Abraham and he presently endorses 15 brands from clothes to cold drinks. On June 4, 2010, just a day after they were engaged, Dhoni married Sakshi Rawat, a Kolkata-girl who is a hotel management student.

Sachin Tendulkar
Date of Birth: Apr 24, 1973
Height: 5'5"
ODI Debut:1989
Matches: 444
Batting Average: 44.97
Strike Rate: 86.18
Wickets: 154
Bowling Average: 44.26
Economy Rate: 5.10
Catches: 134
Enough can not be said about the Little Master. His list of records are matched only the accolades he has picked up in his career and now India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, seems another likely addition to the collection. The first batsman on the planet to make 200 in an ODI match, Tendulkar is 3 centuries away from completeing 50 tons in one-day cricket and is the leading run-scorer in ODIs with 17,629 runs and counting.

Before Sachin turned to batting in a serious way as an adolescent, he wanted to be a fast bowler. During India"s tour to Australia, he was declared out when he ducked to a Glenn McGrath delivery to give birth to the term “shoulder before wicket". He has won the most number of man of series and the man of matches in the ODIs. He owns a high-class restaurant in Mumbai called Tendulkar's. Tendulkar sponsors 200 underprivileged children every year through Apnalaya, a Mumbai-based NGO associated with his mother-in-law, Annabel Mehta. He is married to Anjali (nee Mehta) who is 5 years his senior and has two children with her - Sara and Arjun.

Gautam Gambhir
Date of Birth: Oct 14, 1981
Height: 5'6"
ODI Debut: 2003
Matches: 105
Batting Average: 40.43
Strike Rate: 86.52
Catches: 32
Gautam Gambhir is a left-handed opening batsman known for his blazing batting style and a uniquely balanced yet aggressive approach to the game. In 2007-08 Commonwealth Bank (CB) series Down Under, he scored an unbeaten 102 runs at Gabba against Sri Lanka and followed it up with a career-best 113 runs off 119 balls against Australia at Sydney to finish as the leading run-scorer with 440 runs in the CB series.

Gambhir goes by the nickname "Gauti". Gambhir's father was an army officer. Gambhir likes spending time reading and relaxing with his family, and he also sometimes goes on long drives with his friends. He enjoys playing PlayStation Portable (PSP) video games and his favorite television serial is Left Right Left.

Zaheer Khan
Date of Birth: Oct 7, 1978
Height: 6'1"
ODI Debut: 2000
Matches: 182
Wickets: 252
Bowling Average: 29.68
Economy Rate: 4.91
Batting Average: 12.71
Strike Rate: 73.22
Catches: 38
A left arm fast bowler who is considered the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack, Zaheer Khan is known for his ability to swing the ball both ways, and as a batsman also holds the record for the highest Test score by a No. 11. A veteran of two World Cups, Zaheer finished the 2003 World cup as 4th highest wicket taker - 18 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 20 runs per wicket.

Zaheer has claimed that night life for him is "a quiet dinner and listening to Jagjit Singh's ghazals". Before his cricketing career took off, he was studying instrumentation and engineering. Zaheer is apparently a slow eater and avoids fried foods. He has been romantically linked to Isha Sharvani, though by all counts the affair seems to be off.

Suresh Raina
Date of Birth: Nov 27, 1986
Height: 5'10"
ODI Debut: 2005
Matches: 111
Batting Average: 35.18
Strike Rate: 89.60
Wickets: 7
Bowling Average : 59.71
Economy Rate: 5.33
Catches: 47
The southpaw oozes with batting prowess and can provide an innings the momentum it needs in the middle. He has an appetite for big shots and pulls them off with much flair as witnessed especially in the IPL and Champions League. The UP youth is also a very proficient fielder in the inner ring. Raina has three centuries and 16 fifties to his credit.

Though Raina's hails from Lucknow, he comes from a Kashmiri Pandit family which have origins in the Rainawari quarter of Srinagar. In October 2010, a leading British newspaper claimed he was involved with a woman allegedly associated with a bookmaker. But the BCCI denied such involvement on his behalf and nothing came of the claims. Among Raina's likes are patriotic Indian songs which he picked up during a stint at a hostel.

Praveen Kumar
Date of Birth:Oct 2, 1986
Height: 5'11"
ODI Debut: 2007
Matches: 48
Wickets: 57
Bowling Average : 33.57
Economy Rate: 5.07
Batting Average: 13.23
Strike Rate: 85.22
Catches: 11
Though currently restrained by a troublesome elbow injury, Praveen will be a valuable player in the World Cup. He first burst on the scene during India's tour of Down Under in 2007-08 and bowled match-winning spells in the finals. Though his form has been somewhat wishy-washy since that high, he is still able to effect deadly swing with the ball and is power-hitter lower down the order. He is also the only bowler in IPL to have taken a hat-trick.

Praveen can be quite a bad boy off the field too. On 16 May 2008, it was reported that an inebriated Praveen physically assaulted a doctor in his hometown of Meerut. However, the BCCI is yet to impose charges on him. Preveen's full name is Praveenkumar Sakat Singh, but he prefers to go by Praveen Kumar.

R Ashwin
Date of Birth: Aug 17, 1986
Height: 6'2"
ODI Debut: 2010
Matches: 7
Wickets: 14
Bowling Average : 23.21
Economy Rate: 4.92
Catches: 0
R Ashwin has done well in the limited opportunities he has got and is not only a wicket-taker but also a miserly bowler. He has also been Dhoni's choice to bowl the most critical overs for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and Champions League and never disappointed his skipper. He is the least experienced of all the players going into this World Cup. He is the only player apart from Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis to ball the "carrom ball" in recent times. Ashwin is a qualified engineer having completed his B-Tech degree.

Virender Sehwag (Vice Captain)
Date of Birthday: Oct 20, 1978
Height: 5'7"
ODI Debut: 1999
Matches: 228
Batting Average: 34.64
Strike Rate: 103.27
Wickets: 92
Bowling Average: 40.39
Economy Rate: 5.27
Catches: 84
Perhaps the most aggressive opening batsmen India has ever had, Virender Sehwag is the proud owner of a closet-full of records which includes the fastest one-day century by an Indian (off 60 balls). He is also proved to be a valuable part-time bowler, getting some timely breakthroughs for his team. He has been vice captain of the Indian ODI team since Oct 2005 with a short interlude in between when he was stripped of the responsibility.

Sehwag is the son of a Haryanvi grain merchant who once broke his tooth when angered over his young son's obsession for cricket. "Viru", as he is affectionately called, married Arti Ahlawat in April 2004 in a wedding hosted by then Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley. He is sometimes referred to as the Nawab of Najafgarh after his residential locality in Delhi. Sehwag is a strict life-long vegetarian and owns a vegetarian eatery called Sehwag's Favourites. He also does charity work for UNICEF.

Yuvraj Singh
Date of Birth: Dec 12, 1981
Height: 6'2"
ODI Debut: 2000
Matches: 265
Batting Average: 36.61
Strike Rate: 87.65
Wickets: 94
Bowling Average: 39.18
Economy Rate: 5.04
Catches: 81
Though not as consistent as he used to be, Yuvraj Singh has proved to be a fine left handed batsman who can morph into a marauder on his day. Among his most memorable batting endeavours was a 121-run match winning stand with Mohammad Kaif for the 6th wicket in the Natwest tri-series final against England in 2002. He is also a veteran of two World Cups and holds a Twenty20 record for hitting 6 sixes in an over during a World T20 match against England in 2007. He is also a capable left-arm spin bowler and has the ability to unsettle any opposition.

"Yuvi", as he is fondly referred to has put on a significant amount of weight in the last few years which has adversely affected his fine fielding ability.The Bollywood animated film "Jumbo" features cricketer Yuvraj's voice, thereby initiating his career in Bollywood. His father Yograj Singh is a former fast bowler and Punjabi film star.

Harbhajan Singh
Date of Birth: Jul 3, 1980
Height: 5'11"
ODI Debut: 1998
Matches: 217
Wickets: 246
Bowling Average: 33.14
Economy Rate: 4.30
Batting Average: 13.23
Strike Rate: 81.58
Catches: 63
Easily India's best spinner after Anil Kumble and Bishen Singh Bedi, Harbhajan seems perennially on the brink of turning a full-fledged allrounder for his aggressive and effective batting ability. He is developed quite a reputation for being a match-winner more with the bat than with the bal Perhaps, Bhajji's finest all-round performance in ODIs came in a 2005-06 home game against England in which he top-scored with 37 runs and then took 5/31, enabling India to win the game by 39 runs.

Bhajji has been no stranger to controversy. A ban for allegedly racially vilifying Aussie allrounder Andrew Symonds was overturned on appeal, but he was barred from one whole season of the Indian Premier League for slapping pace bowler S Sreesanth. The government of Punjab made him an honorary deputy police SP, but despite that credential, he got into a scuffle with police outside the team hotel in Guwahati. Bhajji triggered off a protest riot in Amritsar in 2006 after appearing in an alcohol add without his turban. He has been called the "turbanator" for his uncanny ability to terminate the opposition's innings.

Ashish Nehra
Date of Birth: Apr 29, 1979
Height: 6'1"
ODI Debut: 1999
Matches: 117
Wickets: 154
Bowling Average: 31.56
Economy Rate: 5.19
Batting Average: 6.08
Strike Rate: 58.09
Catches: 17
Left arm fast bowler Ashish Nehra has performed fairly consistently for Team India over the last decade, getting a career-best 6/23 against England in the 2003 World Cup. He ended the mega-event with 15 wickets from 9 matches at an enviable average of 19.26. His delivery timed at 149.7 km/h during the World Cup 2003 is widely regarded as the fastest ever delivery bowled till then by a left-armer in one day internationals.

He is currently one of the longest-remaining fit cricketers in the national side having not suffered any strain or injury since 2006. However, Nehra has often been criticized for his poor fielding, and is regarded as one of the worst in international cricket. He has been married to Rushma Nehra since Dec 2009.

Munaf Patel
Date of Birth: Jul 12, 1983
Height: 6'3"
ODI Debut: 2006
Matches: 54
Wickets: 65
Bowling Average: 29.69
Economy Rate: 4.78
Batting Average: 8.11
Strike Rate: 66.97
Catches: 9
Munaf Patel has been proving his mettle as a formidable bowler in recent times and is known for his sustained control. He has produced results against challenging oppositions, most notably 3/28 against England in 2006 ICC Champions Trophy and more recently 4/29 against South Africa in the Rainbow Nation, both performances earning him Man of the Match awards. Though India failed to move past the first round of the 2007 World Cup, he was the side's second most successful bowler, picking up 4 wickets from 3 matches at an average of 26.25.

Sunil Gavaskar once said of him that is "useless as a fielder", which perhaps is true, but he has worked on that aspect of his game since coming to prominence. Sachin Tendulkar was instrumental in Mumbai's Ranji team snapping up Munaf in late 2003. He has therefore, never played for his native Gujarat. Munaf was subjected to bio-mechanical analysis on his bowling action to improve its efficiency. Howvever, he was once smacked for 6 fours in an over by West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan.

Yusuf Pathan
Date of Birth: Nov 17,1982
Height: 6'1"
ODI Debut: 2008
Matches: 42
Batting Average: 29.33
Strike Rate: 110.00
Wickets: 29
Bowling Average : 34.06
Catches: 14
Often termed a "flat-track bully", Yusuf has the ability to make a match pivot on its head. He is useful both for short spurts of quick runs or even to play the longer, stabilising innings. He is also an effective spin option for the middle overs. His exploits with the bat have been legendary. In the 2010 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Yusuf, playing for the Rajasthan Royals, he reached a century of 37 balls against Mumbai in an innings which included 11 consecutive hits to the boundary. His two centuries in one-dayers have come against stiff odds and at a blistering pace.

Yusuf has been nicknamed "lethal weapon". His brother Irfan Pathan says that the family is on the look out for a suitable young bride for Yusuf.

Virat Kohli
Date of Birth: Nov 5, 1988
Height: 5'9"
Debut: 2008
Matches: 42
Batting Average: 45.73
Strike Rate: 82.12
Catches: 20
Virat Kohli has proved one of India's most versatile batsman, adapting with relative ease
to any sort of wicket. He has been simply the most consistent batsman up the order in recent times with a stunning average and 4 hundreds and 11 fifties under his belt. He is an apparently indispensable part of the IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, becoming the only player to be retained by the franchise ahead of the playe auction for the fourth season.

As the captain of the India Under-19 team, Virat Kohli led it to a memorable U-19 World Cup triumph at Malaysia in 2008. Kohli regards Herschelle Gibbs, the famous South African cricketer, as his idol. Other than cricket, Leander Paes, the Indian tennis star and Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis player are his favourite sport personalities. He loves to play tennis and go on long drives during his spare time. Virat Kohli also enjoys hanging out in Barista and Barton Centre in Bangalore.

Piyush Chawla
Date of Birth: Dec 24, 1988
Height: 5'7"
ODI Debut: 2007
Matches: 21
Wickets: 28
Bowling Average: 32.53
Economy Rate: 4.96
Catches: 9
Piyush Chawla has proved a nifty little leg-spinner. But the 21-year old has just played 22
one-dayers thus far and his last appearance for Team India was way back in in July 2008.

Chawla was an early bloomer, He represented India Under-19 and Uttar Pradesh U-22 at just 15 years of age. Prior to making his first-class debut, at 17, he had already clean bowled Sachin Tendulkar with a googly in a Challenger Series match.

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