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No southern comfort for Team India

June 11, 2009 18:58 IST

No southern comfort for Team India

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When Krishnamachari Srikkanth was named chairman of the national selection committee some cricket fans were a tad sceptical.

The team, they claimed, would mostly consist of players from the south.

They cited the example of Srikkanth's predecessor Dilip Vengsarkar's tenure when players from the West Zone got a chance to don national colours.

However, the playing XI in both of India's opening matches in the ongoing T20 competition has been conspicuous by the absence of any player from southern India.

In fact, only one player (Tamil Nadu's Dinesh Karthik who replaces the injured Virendra Sehwag) represents the south in the 15-man squad.

In the inaugural T20 competition, three players from the south -- Karthik, Robin Uthappa and S Sreesanth -- featured in the national side with the latter two players regularly seen in the starting line-up.

Besides Karthik, Sreesanth and Uthappa, the selectors gave players like Lakshmipathy Balaji, M P Vijay and S Badrinath ample scope to prove their worth. Perhaps their performances weren't good enough to impress the selectors. And that explains the present situation.

When was the last time that no player from the south was part of Team India's playing XI?

We are still studying the game's annals to locate an answer. It is a tough ask for sure. However, at the moment, it should suffice to say it hasn't happened in a long time.

A look at Team India's current playing XI:


Image: Team India

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Leading from the front

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Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a clear southern connection. He captains the Chennai Super Kings in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

But the 27-year-old represents (whenever he will, that is) Jharkhand in domestic competitions.

His performance with the bat may be topsy turvy of late, but his captaincy continues to conquer new frontiers.

Interestingly, MS perhaps endorses more products than any other Indian captain. The gossip columns say he has another Southern link -- his lady love is said to be a southside actress.


Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Photographs: Reuters
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You can be serious

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Virender Sehwag isn't a part of the tournament any more, having been ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Gautam Gambhir has now more responsibilities on his shoulders.

The solid opener from Delhi has taken up the role of the senior partner with immaculate ease.

His 46-ball 50 against Bangladesh and his 31-ball 37 against Ireland are cases in point.


Image: Gautam Gambhir
Photographs: Reuters
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Who's afraid to open?

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Rohit Sharma seems content with his new role as an opener.

How else would you describe his unbeaten 45-ball 52 against Ireland?

The Mumbai youngster was, in the course of his innings, also involved in a 77-run opening partnership (in just 65 balls) that set up the run chase for India.

The half-century followed his quickfire 23-ball 36 against Bangladesh on Saturday.

And we are yet to forget his awe-inspiring 80 from 53 deliveries against Pakistan in the warm-up match.

We also hear that Rohit, a Mumbaikar to the core, has Telugu origins. So the south may not be unrepresented after all :-)


Image: Rohit Sharma
Photographs: Reuters
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Aggression personified

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Both Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina provide stability to the Indian middle order.

The former, a star of the winning campaign in the inaugural T20 edition, showed flashes of brilliance in a blazing knock of 41 from just 18 deliveries against Bangladesh, an innings that included four sixes and three boundaries.

The Punjab star, Kings Punjab skipper and Mumbai resident can also be a handy bowler in this format. Did we mention two hat-tricks in IPL II?

With his Chennai Superkings mate and skipper promoting himself up the order, the young UP star has not got an opportunity yet to prove his worth.

But with his attacking batting and effective bowling, it won't be long before Raina makes a mark.


Image: Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina
Photographs: Reuters
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Lethal weapon

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With India winning both its matches without breaking a sweat, Yusuf Pathan has not been seen in blazing action yet.

He came in towards the fag end against Bangladesh and didn't bat against Ireland.

The Baroda all-rounder took a wicket against the former and did not bowl against the latter side.


Image: Yusuf Pathan
Photographs: Reuben NV
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Not so impressive

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Yusuf's younger bro has been a disappointment in India's campaign so far.

Having conceded 42 runs from the five overs he has bowled so far, the Baroda star has failed to take a single wicket.


Image: Irfan Pathan
Photographs: Reuters
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Playing second fiddle

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Harbhajan Singh, India's top spinner, has been rather inconsistent lately.

Even though he sometimes checks the flow of runs, the Punjab and Mumbai Indians off-spinner has been struggling to take wickets.

With just one wicket in two matches, Bhajji is playing second fiddle to the much younger Pragyan Ojha (six wickets in two matches).


Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Reuters
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Zak is back

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Zaheer Khan injured his shoulder during the Indian Premier League and only made it to the Indian team for the warm-up game against Pakistan.

The Mumbai and Mumbai Indians star came up with a fine spell of fast bowling as India crushed Ireland by eight wickets in their second match.

The left-arm pacer took four wickets for 19 runs in three overs.

Zak was magnificent.


Image: Zaheer Khan
Photographs: Reuters
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Spin doctor

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Pragyan Ojha represents Hyderabad in domestic competitions.

The Deccan Chargers left-arm spinner hails from Orissa.

A consistent performer in IPL II -- he took 18 wickets in the Deccan Chargers's march to triumph -- has continued his good form in the T20 contest.

His four for 21 helped India to a 25-run victory over Bangladesh besides winhing him the man-of-the-match award on debut.


Image: Pragyan Ojha
Photographs: Reuters
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Disappointing!

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Ishant Sharma has been struggling to control his economy rate in the T20 tournament; he has also failed to pick up wickets regularly.

Former Test player Manoj Prabhakar feels the Delhi and Kolkata Knight Riders pacer has lost his swing in pursuit of extra speed.


Image: Ishant Sharma
Photographs: Reuters
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