Piyush Chawla © Getty Images
Piyush Chawla © Getty Images


By Dhananjay Devasper


The warm-up games are under way, and by all indications it promises to be a fight amongst the fancied teams, barring New Zealand. The Black Caps need to seriously step up in every aspect to be among the strong contenders.


As far as India’s game went, it was all about the bowlers. Mahendra Singh Dhoni spoke about being mentally prepared. If the first warm-up game was any indicator, it showed that the batsmen were just the opposite. Barring Virender Sehwag and Yusuf Pathan, none of them showed the aptitude to use this game for some much-needed batting practice.


While we may be guilty of reading too much into it, it will be totally different ball game once the league matches begin. The players prepare differently for the games that matter.


Also, this is a World Cup, which will allow you to get into the groove, since you are playing a good number of matches with the minnows first. So the teams don’t need to panic if the warm-up games didn’t go their way, or if they capitulated the way the Aussies did against India.


This brings us to the selection conundrum posed by the warm-up game throw up for India. Piyush Chawla, with his four wicket haul has just given Dhoni, a chance to flash his trademark smile and say, “I knew what I was doing”.


However, the Indian team has been all about its batting firepower and its ability to chase down big targets. The likes of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, were left searching for answers on a pitch, which could have been mistaken to have been tailor-made for the Australians.


However, all of this will change when the “God of Cricket”, Sachin Tendulkar, makes an appearance at the next warm-up game, against New Zealand. He brings serene stability at one end, when Sehwag is on fire at the other. More importantly he shields Gautam Gambhir from the new ball attack. Of late, Gambhir has been found wafting outside the off stump, tickling deliveries into the gloves of the wicketkeeper.


Dhoni could also try coming in at No. 4, in the next warm-up game and for the first three games – against Bangladesh, England and Ireland – to get a few runs. His form with the bat has been wretched of late. With Yusuf Pathan at No. 7 playing the “Last Mile Marauder”, the batting will have a little more substance.


If the first warm-up game threw up a few questions that had no immediate answers, it will be even more difficult after the second one. With Zaheer Khan in for the league matches, it makes the task of the think-tank even more difficult.  Who’s in and who’s out, only time will tell. Stay tuned!


(Dhananjay Devasper is an “IT guy” by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)