New Delhi:Winning the ODI series against Sri Lanka without key players like captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh has proved that India has a strong pool of reserve players for 2011 cricket World Cup, according to chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth.
Notwithstanding Dhoni and Yuvraj's absence, India defeated Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the fourth one-dayer in Kolkata to take an uassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series with last ODI scheduled to be held at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi on Sunday.
Dhoni missed the last two games in Cuttack and Kolkata due to a two-match ban imposed on him for his side's slow over-rate in the second ODI in Nagpur while Yuvraj had been ruled out after the third match due to a finger injury.
"Winning the series in Dhoni and Yuvraj's absence shows that we have strong bench strength. The youngsters have stepped in at crucial junctures. Virat Kohli came in for Yuvraj Singh in ODIs and (Murali) Vijay for Gautam (Gambhir) in Tests," Srikkanth told reporters at the Palam ground on Friday during the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match between Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
"The good thing is that now there is healthy competition in the team. The last two months have been good and I am happy with the way the team has played.
"Just like Test cricket, I want the team to become the No. 1 in One-day cricket too. But nothing would be greater than winning the 2011 World Cup," he said.
"We deserved to be the No.1 team in Tests as we have consistently done well in different conditions in the last one year. We have beaten teams in their own country, we have won at home on placid pitches and not on turning tracks", Srikkanth said.
"I rate this side very highly because Sehwag can destroy any bowling, Tendulkar can provide the balance and Gambhir and Dravid can play for hours," he pointed out.
The former India captain also heaped praise on young Virat Kohli, who cracked his maiden ODI ton yesterday in Kolkata and in Gautam Gambhir's company guided India to a comprehensive victory.
"He (Kohli) was simply brilliant. He is a youngster but he handled the pressure brilliantly," he said.
He was also not unduly worried about Ishant Sharma's poor form and said it was just a matter of time before the lanky pacer gets his rhythm back.
"Ishant is a talented player. It's just that he is going through poor form but I am sure he will soon come back strongly," Srikkanth said.
The former opener also lavished praise on coach Gary Kirsten, saying, "Kirsten is brilliant. He is a sensible person and knows what he is doing. His contribution is important."
India's poor fielding has come under the scanner in the ongoing series against the Lankans but Srikkanth said with time things will improve.
"The players are working on their fielding. They are trying to improve and I am sure things will fall in place," he said.