No surprises expected in India''s World Cup squad

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Chennai, Jan 16 (PTI) No major surprises are in theoffing but a lot of brainstorming on a couple of spots isstill expected when the five-member selection panel sits downto pick India''s final 15-member squad for the ICC cricketWorld Cup here tomorrow.

The list of 30 probables will be pruned to half tomorrowand no big star is expected to be left out of the final squadfor the mega-event starting February 19.

However, just a day before the selection meeting, doubtshave arisen over veteran Sachin Tendulkar''s availability afterhe pulled out of the remainder of the ODI series in SouthAfrica as a precautionary measure after sustaining a hamstringinjury during yesterday''s second match.

But going by indications, the injury is not serious andTendulkar will be making his sixth World Cup appearance. Thechampions batsman has been withdrawn from the remaining threeODIs against South Africa and will return home immediately togive him enough rest before the mega-event starting February19.

But if Tendulkar is found unfit, which is highlyunlikely, Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay is expected to takehis place in the side.

The rest of the batting line-up is, however, expected tohave familiar and established stars.

The opening slots will be filled by Virender Sehwag, andGautam Gambhir and it will be interesting to see whetherreserve opener Vijay stands as both the first-choice batsmenhave been given precautionary rest to heal their niggles.

The middle-order will most certainly feature the never tobe underestimated Yuvraj Singh, who returned to form yesterdaywith a well-made 53, and the young trio of SureshRaina, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

The ongoing ODI series in South Africa was supposed togive a chance to the probables to prove their worth butskipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already poured cold water onsuggestions that the performance there would make much of adifference to the World Cup squad.

"Not really, as not just one performance will matter.

Guys who have worked hard for the last year-and-a-half theymay get a chance.

"I think for the World Cup, fight is on for just one ortwo position as rest of the players will choose themselves.

Basically, it is up to the selectors," Dhoni has said.

On the bowling front, India does not have much of a poolto choose from. The inspirational Zaheer Khan will lead theattack and in all probability his pacer partners would bechosen from the quartet of Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth, MunafPatel and Ishant Sharma. .

Of these, Sreesanth, Ishant and Munaf have come up with reasonably good performances in the series against SouthAfrica.

Harbhajan Singh will spearhead the slow bowlingdepartment but it is hard to guess on who among Amit Mishra,Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha would get the selectors'' nod inthe pruned squad.

The all-rounder''s slot has always been a selectionheadache but despite the absence of options, it would be quitea gamble to pick an inconsistent Ravindra Jadeja.

It remains to be seen whether the selectors will opt tohave a reserve wicket-keeper in the squad in case of an injuryto skipper-stumper Dhoni. The toss up then will be betweenParthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik even though Wriddhimaan Sahahas also been tested in the past one year.

List of probables for World Cup:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar,Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina,Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth, MunafPatel, Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar, M Vijay, Rohit Sharma,Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan,Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Wriddhimaan Saha, Dinesh Karthik,Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Cheteshwar Pujara,Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar.

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