You've seen the lineup for the third India-Sri Lanka ODI, right?
Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mahender Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel.
Not quite the likely starting lineup for the World Cup, but close: clearly the team wants to try Sehwag in the top slot to see if he can recapture the careless rapture of his batting at its best. As clearly, it wants to give Karthik an extended run to assess his capabilities further, and feels comfortable enough about resting Robin Uthappa.
The curious bits relate to the bowling. Firstly, what is wrong with Shantakumaran Sreesanth? He is rested, the management says - but for why? The seamer has played just one game since being dropped halfway through the Windies tour, he is just about finding his bearings. Given all that, wouldn't it make more sense to play him and let him continue to work on lines and lengths out in the middle, rather than sitting on the bench in the team dressing room?
Another player who desperately needed a game or two is Irfan Pathan who, chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar said the other day, is fit and will play. He isn't - because, we are told now, he is not 100 per cent fit. His fitness and form are crucial to this team: if his batting and bowling are both on song, he provides that invaluable all round option in the lower middle order and floating options up the order when the team needs it, but it's been a while since anyone has seen him play at this level, and his continued benching is surprising, to say the least.
Anil Kumble misses this one for personal reasons, we are told, so no more of that for now - though frankly, all things being equal he needs continued play at this level, since by any yardstick his is one of the more marginal selections.
Anyway, so here we go - the Cup squads have been picked, from here on everything the teams do, the few matches they get to play, are all about fine-tuning.
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