Pathan or Raina

March 27, 2011

As we await the India Pakistan semi final, the one question that keeps coming to mind is who, between Pathan and Raina will make it to the playing XI on Wednesday. Raina played calmly and efficiently against Australia in the company of Yuvraj to see us through. However, given the presence of spinners in the Pakistan team, will the Indian team management continue with Raina or will they bet on Yusuf to deliver the goods against the spinners. I would plump for Yusuf.

On similar lines, given the ineffectiveness of Munaf and Nehra, will Kirsten and gang opt to bring in Sreesanth for the semi final ?. Given the frailties of the Pakistani batting, I would be tempted to give Sreesanth a go in this match. The pitch at Mohali is also likely to favor a Sreesanth type aggressive medium fast bowler. It is also tempting to imagine that some of the new found maturity evident in Yuvraj would have rubbed off on Indian cricket’s “bad boy”. The poise with which Yuvraj is completing his quota of overs and the presence of capable part timers like Yusuf (or Raina), Sachin, Sehwag or even Virat offers sufficient insurance in case Sreesanth happens to have a bad day. Additonally, opening the attack with Ashwin and Sreesanth will also enable Dhoni to have enough of Zaheer’s overs with the older ball and during the death overs. An attack comprising Zak, Sree, Ashwin and Bhajji sounds a lot more potent than what we have had on display till date in the WC.

It is also revealing that only one of the qualifiers from the supposed “group of death” made it to the semi final. In fact, the rest went down to their respective opponents without even much of a fight. But for the fielding errors, Sri Lanka are looking a very dangerous side. The intent with which they batted during the run chase makes them, to me, the favourites for the cup.