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India - World Cup Ladder
11 Apr 2006
By: Neil Pickup

Team India
World Cup Claim to Fame:
Riding on Kapil Dev's inspirations, India came back from the brink against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells in 1983 before shocking the West Indies in the Final.
Two-line Profile
The best batting line up this side of the Green and Gold
A seam attack who are barely sure of their places in the squad, let alone team

1) Rahul Dravid
If being one of the best batsman in the world for the past five years wasn't enough to ink his place in the party, his recent elevation to captain means that nothing short of the loss of an arm will keep Dravid from touring.

2) Sachin Tendulkar
So he's a little bit out of form in the Test arena, and his elbow's a bit dicky. However, he's also the personification of cricket to more than one generation of fan. If Greg Chappell even entertained the thought of a change in the guard, he'd be looking at burning effigies before he could even prime his middle finger.

3) Virender Sehwag
The fact that Matthew Hoggard won't be going to the World Cup should be enough for the Pakistani seam attack's least favourite opponent to sleep rather more soundly in the Caribbean than he has in the past few weeks. One can't help but wonder when questions about that ODI average might begin to be asked, mind.

4) Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Incapable of batting in any way bar aggressive - as shown in the Mumbai debacle - MSD would find himself in the side even if it weren't for his glovework. As it stands, the competition between himself, Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel is barely worth paying lip service to.

5) Irfan Pathan
He bats like a left-handed Shane Warne and bowls at the sort of pace you'd expect from Under 15s, but somehow he still takes top order wickets and scores reasonable runs. I can't work out why, neither can anyone else, and until somebody does then his place in the side's secure.

6) Yuvraj Singh
It seems that the potential of 2002 has become the player in 2006. With Ganguly and Laxman sliding down the pecking order, the left-hander has made the most of the opportunities offered him.

7) Harbhajan Singh
For a few weeks in Pakistan, it looked like the Turbanator's bowling figures - straight from the Rawl Lewis/Roger Wijesuriya textbook - might spell the end of his run in the national side. Three months later, he had bowled India to victory in the first ODI against England, and all was forgotten.

8) Mohammad Kaif
In, out, in, out, shake it all about - he might not be at all sure whether he's getting a starting place or not, nor where to put his feet when at short leg... but he's also a versatile middle order batsman who's electric in the field. It's all a matter of interpretation.

9) Suresh Raina
Two years on from the Under 19 World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar's injury has come at the perfect time for Raina to show the country what he's capable of - and with the middle-order composure that England saw, he's gone from 'perhaps' to 'probably'.

10) Shanthakumaran Sreesanth
There's no wonder that he likes to be known by his surname, but the part-time break dancer is the most controlled of a crop of young pacemen fighting for the final spots in the Indian attack. One of only two other people who thought that it would be a good idea to copy Malinga Bandara's ginger streaks.

11) Ajit Agarkar
One of the most unlikely cult heroes of recent times, the sheer erraticism of 'AA' has won him favour in the hearts of cricket fans worldwide. Maybe it's being the fastest man ever to 50 wickets in ODIs, or getting five consecutive ducks against Australia? Whatever it is, there's something that interests the Indian selectors - they keep going back to him.

12) Rudra Pratap Singh
Another 80-mph-or-so seamer, and already it's starting to get a little bit samey - at least Rudra Pratap at least has a left arm to provide variety. Journalists worldwide are desperate for a matchwinning effort at the Royal Premadasa Stadium and the excuse to unveil several rather pathetic semblances of alliterative punnery.

13) Gautam Gambhir
As well as not being able to decide on their seamers, the question of the other opener has dogged Indian cricket. Several have been tried, but right now it's Gambhir's gig... and until he fails a few times in a row and someone else gets a shot, then he's in with a chance of a West Indian trip.

14) Munaf Patel
Unsettled England on Test debut with pace and reverse-swing, inbetween unsettling Mahendra Dhoni with some scattergun bursts. Offers something a little different to the other seamers, but there's always the chance of a Mick Lewis moment.

15) Ramesh Powar
Possibly unwitting contributor to a new world record for heaviest batsman/bowler combination as he pitted wits and waistlines against Ian Blackwell recently, Powar nevertheless has two key advantages over his English challenger - the abilities to bat and bowl.

16) Sourav Ganguly
Kiran More might have said that he's never playing again - but given a sudden run of defeats, a few cracks opening, an injury to a key man... and there's no one more experienced to turn to than His Regal Left-Handedness. He's got to have something to have wound up so many Australians so royally, hasn't he?

17) Vikram Rajvir Singh
You want me to write about another right arm quickish-medium seamer with a baffling set of initials without lapsing into cliche and irrelevance? I would've given it a shot, but I've run out of space.

18) Dinesh Karthik
At the Champions Trophy, Dinesh had finally disposed of Parthiv Patel and Rahul Dravid's clumsy glovework to claim the gloves. Unfortunately, Steve Harmison disposed of him so efficiently, the selectors decided to give MS Dhoni a go...

19) Robin Uthappa
Leapfrogging his way into the national squad for the final three ODIs against England, the top-order strokeplayer has Gautam Gambhir's opening reserve in his sights - and with Kabir Ali and Sajid Mahmood to feast on, he won't get a better chance to impress.

20) Zaheer Khan
A year's a long time in cricket. At the last World Cup, Zaheer was the leading light of India's pace attack, and just twelve months ago he slammed the highest ever score by a number eleven in a Test match. Now, he's slid below the phalanx of medium pacers, and the only way back is domestic wickets.

21) Piyush Chawla
The youngest Indian to play Test Cricket, in the same way Hasan Raza is the youngest from all nations. Allegedly still 17, Chawla's stunning Youth World Cup efforts led to a first Test call up against England - and a mauling from Kevin Pietersen. Still, he's got a googly, and he once bowled Sachin with it.

22) Murali Kartik
The other subscriber to the Sreesanth-Bandara school of hairdressing, the world's second spinner called Murali impressed Lancashire in the shorter form of the game last summer. He's now following the same downward course as the last Indian to grace Old Trafford, Dinesh Mongia...

23) VVS Laxman
Most people find it hard to bat against Australia. For Vangipurappu Venkata Sai, it's everyone else that's the problem - and right now, it'll be hard to justify a plane ticket if that (plus a decent bit of slip catching) is all that there's to offer. Ranji runs, please.

24) Ashish Nehra
Whatever happened to Gary Gilmour after he blew England away in the 1975 World Cup semi final? I don't know either, but Ashish Nehra - who became the second left-arm swing bowler to take six English wickets in a World Cup game in Durban last time out - looks like he may be heading the same way.

25) Venugopal Rao
Statistics provides little conclusive evidence as to whether Venu's either a batsman or bowler at International level. With Ajit Agarkar currently occupying the six-of-one role in the Indian side, a little more conversion of domestic promise will be needed in the next twelve months.

26) Lakshmipathy Balaji
Despite one of the most disastrous starts to his ODI career this side of Sultan Zarawani, the latest of India's right arm seamers with intriguing forenames starred against Pakistan before fading to the background. Still, with the permanent transition in the seam battery and a few wickets at the right time...

27) Shikhar Dhawan
Ignored for Robin Uthappa in recent days, Dhawan's chances of a World Cup trip on the back of his domestic efforts now look as slim as the chances of an opportunity to impress in the national blue between now and 2007.

28) Jai Prakash Yadav
The facts that he's had a go at International level, and isn't in the squad any more, go a long way toward summarising Yadav's potential tour spot. Medium pace plus middle order batting mean direct competition with Rao for a place in the reserve queue.

29) Anil Kumble
He's bowling as well as he's ever done - he's even getting leg breaks to turn, and bowling people with them (even if Hawkeye insists they're going over the top) - but it seems like his ODI career is, barring injury, at an end.

30) Aavishkar Salvi
Right arm, quickish medium. Two years since his TVS Cup introduction against Australia, a combination of a lack of wickets and a run of injuries has seen Salvi slide down the pace pecking order. Can't bat either, which doesn't help him when his rivals can slog a boundary or three.

31) Parthiv Patel
Like Agarkar, his contribution to International cricket will long be remembered above many more distinguished performers. Unfortunately it's because he still looks like he's twelve years old, and couldn't catch.

32) Hemang Badani
Whilst Badani's eager fielding, middle order workmanship and occasional off-breaks continue to merit domestic recognition, the uncomfortable fact is that his International boat sailed some years ago - and he wasn't on it.

33) Cheteshwar Pujara
Behind Piyush Chawla, his top order batting was the second reason behind India U19's impressive showing in the World Cup. The ability to pace his innings elevated Pujara above his contemporaries, but with one junior already in the mix, there's unlikely to be space for a second to force his way in.

34) Dinesh Mongia
It will take something extraordinary from the jack whose all-trades have graced Leicestershire and Lancashire during England's summers to merit a second successive World Cup berth... and even that might not be enough.

35) Sanjay Bangar
It seems unorthodox to suggest a man who found a role at the top of the Test order with a stonewall approach for a late-order hitter's role, but he's hit domestic runs apace and picked up wickets with intellingent outswing.

36) Gaurav Dhiman
The second half of the Under 19 opening pair, alongside Pujara, his flamboyant approach is unlikely to edge his way above his partner, never mind into the Gambhir-Uthappa-Dhawan game of musical chairs.

37) Sridharan Sriram
A spectacular domestic record that never translated onto the International stage, it will take an equally sensational chain of events for the left-hander to book his place in the Caribbean.

38) Ravindra Jadeja
Explosive Under 19 middle order batting plus resourceful left-arm spin make Jadeja - no relation to Ajay - a likely name for future Indian squads. As for 2007? That might be several years too soon.

39) Amit Mishra
Ten places below India's other leg spinner - and one who's on the way out of the ODI picture at that - Mishra's World Cup chances are entirely dependent on an injury crisis of English proportions striking down the other spinners in the country.

40) Rohan Gavaskar
It was never going to be easy making a way in cricket with that surname, and that father's history, hanging over your head. However, it would have been a lot easier for Sunil's progeny if he had actually been any good - maybe then people wouldn't be mentioning the N-word whenever his International career came up for debate.

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