Selecting Super-Sub

If the reports from the Telegraph are to be believed (and trust me, they are always spot on), India would be playing Jai Prakash Yadav in the starting XI with Murali Karthik as the super sub in their opening game against the Kiwis. So the likely lineup is - Viru, Dada, Dhoni, Dravid, Kaif, Yuvi, Yadav, Aggie, Irfan, Bhajji and Nehra with Murali as the super-sub.

Looks like a very well balanced side on paper (Harsha advocated the same XI in one of his earlier columns). Personally, I would like to have Murali in the playing XI with Yadav as the super sub. Yadav has a decent first class bowling record but am really not sure if he is a better bowler than Murali. The fifth bowler has been India's weakest link in recent times and it would be in the
team's best interest if they always field their top 5 bowlers.

An ideal playing XI should consist of the top 6 batsmen (assuming the wicket keeper is one of them) and the top 5 bowlers in the team. Selecting the super sub should be based on whether the "combined match winning ability" of the batsmen is greater than that of the bowlers (selected in the XI) or not. If the batsmen have better combined-ability (as in India's case), the super sub should be a bowler. If the bowlers have a better combined-ability (as in England's case), the super sub should be a batsman. (England played Vikram Solanki, a proper batsman, as their super sub in their matches against the Aussies earlier this season. Yes, the fact that they have the world's best all-rounder playing for them gives them the added flexibility).

Nothing against Yadav, but I dont think he is among the either the top 6 batsmen or the top 5 bowlers in the team. However, he is very well suited to play the role of the super sub. If India field first, he can be swapped with Nehra after the first innings. And if India bat first and lose their top 5 batsmen cheaply, Yadav can come in to bat instead of Murali/Agarkar and roll his arm over as the fifth bowler later on. With Karthik as the super sub, there isn't much value added if India field first.

This surely is a highly debatable topic and am sure it would be discussed at length as the tournament progresses.

Update 1 (after the kiwi innings) - India is playing Venugopal Rao as the super sub; helps India's cause as it is batting second. About JP Yadav, he bowled well within his limitations and ended up having the third best bowling figures. Still believe, that fielding the top 5 bowlers would have helped India close the Kiwi innings much earlier. But who are the top 5? Aggie continues to disappoint and Harbhajan is still struggling to find his rhythm this season.

Update 2 (after the Indian innings) - The Indian super sub was clean bowled first ball off the bowling of his Kiwi counterpart. In the end for India, it didn't really matter who their super sub was. Their best chance of winning was if the Kiwi supersub had not come into play at all.

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