2011 saw what is in my opinion the best World Cup ever and what made it even more special for me and rest of the 1.21 billion people in India was that our team finally won the World Cup after 28 years of waiting.
Winning in front of the home crowd under the immense pressure and scrutiny of the cricket crazy Indian public I’m sure made it an even harder task. Team India richly deserves their victory and so does the great Sachin Tendulkar.
That said in all likelihood this was his last World Cup campaign. He has already given up playing T20 Internationals and in the next year or so I fully expect him to give up ODIs too so as to prolong his test match career and as much as the thought of him retiring from the game completely hurts I believe this eventuality will occur before the next world cup comes around.
We may yet see him at the World Cup in Australia continuing to mesmerize us with his sheer cricketing brilliance, though it will most likely be in a suit from the comforts of the commentary box. Commentary is something he has admitted to wanting to do post retirement
This brings me to contemplate what the Indian team that will be sent to defend its crown in Australia four years from now might look like.
Those that will in all probability be missing from the current world champion squad will be;
- Sachin Tendulkar – As mentioned before he will have most likely retired from the game.
- Zaheer Khan/Ashish Nehra – Both fine bowlers, Zaheer who has been the lynch-pin of our bowling attack for the last 2 or 3 years has been ably supported by Nehra. Both will be well and truly past their prime as they will be 36 years of age by 2015 and even in this day and age fast bowlers simply can’t last that long.
Then there are those that in my opinion just won’t be good enough in four years time;
- Munaf Patel – Although he is 28 at the moment and should establish himself as a regular in the team in the next four years, though I doubt he will be among the top 4 fast bowlers in the country in 2015. So in my opinion he misses out on a spot.
- Yusuf Pathan – Currently occupies the allrounder’s spot in the side with his hard hitting batting and slow offspinners. Has performed admirably especially when the team has been in trouble. That said in Australia the team will need a fast bowling allrounder as there are many others in the team like Yusuf who will provide the spinning options.
- S Sreesanth – Here is a bowler with a fantastic bowling action, perfect seam on release but one with a suspect temperament will sadly struggle to find a spot in the side. He is more suited to the test matches as he often proves too expensive in the sorter formats. I hope he proves me wrong and ends up being the bowling leader that his natural talent deserves.
- Piyush Chawla – He is young and he is talented, the captain fights for him too. So you say why I do I think he won’t make it to the squad for the next World Cup. Well, its simple, with the World Cup in Australia the team is more likely to take the extra seamer rather, 2 spinners and Piyush Chawla won’t be among the top 2 spinners in the shorter formats. Yet again I predict he will be a big part of the Test match squads in the future.
So with seven current world cup winners missing, our next world cup squad will be one with a few new faces.
Here's who I think barring injuries will constitute the 15 man squad in Australia come 2015.
· Virender Sehwag
· Gautam Gambhir
· Murali Vijay
· Suresh Raina
· Yuvraj Singh
· Virat Kohli
· Rohit Sharma/C Pujara/S Tiwary
The Wicket Keepers
· MS Dhoni (c)
· Parthiv Patel/Robin Utthappa
· Harbhajan Singh
· R Ashwin
· Praveen Kumar
· D Chahar/Umesh Yadav/ Varun Aaron
· Ishant Sharma
· Irfan Pathan
Ideally it would be nice to have someone other than Irfan Pathan vying for the fast bowling allrounder, but as of now I see no other player who could fill that spot apart from him.
The likes of Chahar, Yadav, Aaron, Pujara, Tiwary will no doubt have stiff competition from other young up and coming players, but I have named them here based on my current knowledge of young talent in India.
Four years is a long time during which some of the squad members like Murali Vijay, Ashwin, Sharma still have to prove themselves not just in T20 cricket but in the longer formats and show consistency to earn their spots and the fans respect.
Here's hoping that in 2015 we will have a team with a good balance of experience and youth capable of playing good fast bowling and equally capable of dishing it out. I believe if some of the youngsters coming in fulfill their talent then we will have a real shot at defending our world champions title.