World Cup Preview #1: India

The big daddy of tournaments is not far away, and there are a lot of teams to cover, so I thought I'd get a head start with the previews. First up, obviously, is India.

The squad was mostly what it was expected to be - I know there was some surprise about Ojha and Rohit Sharma initially, but Ojha had been out of the frame in limited-overs games for a while, and Rohit... well, never mind. Chawla is the sort of wild-card 15th player who was probably only picked to give Dhoni the option of playing five bowlers, because none of the other bowlers (no, not even Ashwin) can bat at #7.

Playing five bowlers would be the wrong option, though - we have enough bowlers hidden among the batsmen to make up for the 5th bowler. Fatraj Singh himself has traded enough batting points for bowling points to be able to bowl 10 overs on his own.

Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag will continue to try to score a 30-ball 40 every game, with the occasional 40-ball 70 thrown in, just for variation. The latter will always be match-winning efforts.

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar will play the game in World Cup mode. That's the highest level of difficulty for opposing teams, and he's the boss in every level.

Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir will play the role of the batsman he replaces: if Sehwag gets out, he will attack; if Sachin gets out, he'll look to bat the whole innings.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli is our run-machine, also looking to bat through the innings, especially when chasing.

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh will play some classy cover drives, hit a six or two, waste many balls, take a couple of economical wickets, and then score one match-winning century on a flat track to 'silence his critics'.

Yusuf Pathan

Yusuf Pathan won't get as much time to bat as he has lately, since our top order will be strong again, and he may not score too many at the death. Unfortunate, but realistic.

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina's recent form may lead to him being dropped, and then picked again when my Yusuf prediction comes true. He's a super finisher and should be playing. He will be mentally naming every area of the field 'midwicket'. He will win a couple of games on his own.

MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni will score a couple of 30's and 40's when batting first, pushing his average back up to 50 in the process. He'll randomly pick Chawla in a crunch game, a decision that will be vindicated when Chawla does well. He will be praised for this.

Harbhajan Singh

Harbhajan Singh will bowl very well against major teams, but will be hit by the minnows, especially Bangladesh. In a game against Australia, he will abuse Mitchell Johnson in Punjabi, and will later claim that he was actually calling him a 'popular vegetable that looks like a lady's finger, eaten with potatoes'. Yeah, figure that one out on your own.

Praveen Kumar

Praveen Kumar will impress everyone with his super swing bowling at the beginning, and will take wickets too, but will always end with figures like 2-56 or 6-81 if he bowls at the death. He will hit one six, and never smile (this picture is a fake, damn those nasty Photoshoppers).
Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan will be the Man of the Tournament. He's gotta be, if India are to win the World Cup. Against England, he'll get Prior out first ball and send him off by throwing jellybeans at him.

Munaf Patel

Munaf Patel will take plenty of wickets and keep the runs to a minimum provided he never bowls in a Powerplay or between overs 40-50. He will stun everyone with some electric fielding and great catches. He will also be undismissed throughout the tournament.

Ashish Nehra

Ashish Nehra will be brought in when Patel has a bad day, and will have a worse day. A maiden fifty won't help his cause.

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin will get a game on a slow track. He will take 1-49 and score 10 from 13 balls, and will bowl a couple of carrom balls that largely go unnoticed.

Piyush Chawla

Piyush Chawla, as I mentioned before, will be picked for a crunch game because Dhoni's left pinky was itching. He'll take 4-38 and score 32 in a match-winning effort, only to be dropped for the next game.

Official Prediction: Semi-finals. They may end up champions and I'd love that, but I'm not about to jinx them. Also, the bowling is kinda thin.