The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laxman should have been picked

Oh, what a glorious year it was for Indian cricket in 1983. Before the tournament started, the odds were as low as 50 to one and Kapilís Devils showed what mettle they were made of. Indian cricket had come of age then as they beat the mighty West Indies bidding for their third straight title. It was possible for India to defend a small total mainly because of team effort and total determination as everyone put their weight together with the sole goal of winning the Cup.

It has been 20 years since, and we did not have a crack at the crown after that. If one looks at the grouping in the coming World Cup, India is clubbed with favourites Australia, England, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Teams like The Netherlands, Namibia, Canada, Kenya and Bangladesh are also there amongst the 14 sides but they do not have the potential to challenge any one.

It is interesting to note that India and Pakistan are grouped together for the first time in the World Cup. On present form, Australia would be the hot favourites to reach the final, if not winning the Cup again.

Coming to India, one can say it has got the best batting line-up. With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag, Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh in its ranks, India can boast of batting down till number seven. It is good that Tendulkar had about 15 days rest. The team thinktank should give him the slot he wants in the batting order.

It is heartening to see Jawagal Srinath bowling at his best now. With him as the spearhead and with the likes of Zaheer Khan, there will be no worry for India in their new ball attack. As for Ajit Agarkar, he has always been an enigma. He is highly talented not only in bowling but also in batting and fielding. But he has to be consistent.

Of late, Dravid has been asked to be behind the wickets in one-day games. I do not fully know whether it is the right decision as one mistake can cost the side a match. People generally feel that it is easy to keep wickets but it is not true. My impression on Parthiv Patel is that he is impressive with his attitude and application.

I am not happy with Dinesh Mongiaís selection. On bouncy wickets in South Africa, we need batsmen of the calibre of V.V. S. Laxman, who is more stable at the wicket than Mongia. In my opinion, Laxman would have been the better choice.

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