SANDIPAN BANERJEE | 14 FEBRUARY, 2019
13 of 15 names seem to be sure shots.
With the white-ball assignments in Australia and New Zealand coming to an end, India’s almost battle-ready for the main event of this year – the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Team India’s think tank is left with seven international matches (two T20Is and five ODIs) against Australia at home to identify the 15 players who will best represent the country at the World Cup later this year.
Based on recent performances, we can make an educated guess confirming 13 names in the 15 member squad. Auditions for the remaining two spots are in the form of performances in the series against the Aussies, and possibly the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
With that in mind, let’s have a look at India’s probable World Cup squad.
India’s possible World Cup squad:
Batsmen: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul.
Wicketkeepers: MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant/Dinesh Karthik
All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja.
Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Standby: Khaleel Ahmed, Prithvi Shaw and Vijay Shankar.
Going into the World Cup, batting is expected to be India’s strength. And this department will depend heavily on the top-order, especially the top-three: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli. The key factor behind the success of India’s ODI side in recent years has been the strong start provided by this trio.
The team management will probably want to continue with the same tried and tested script in the World Cup.
Meanwhile, concerns regarding the middle-order remain, but recent performances by Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu have provided some much needed stability to the line-up. In Australia, even MS Dhoni renewed his role as a star finisher.
The team management can breathe a sigh of relief regarding his batting position in the line-up. Down the order, all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be India’s additional option for the finisher’s role.
As second wicket-keeper there are two contenders – Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. Of late in Australia and New Zealand, in the 50-over format, India have preferred Karthik and he has done enough to ensure his World Cup selection.
Looking at the bowling resources, the first-choice attack seems quite certain. Under present circumstances, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami are the three front-line seamers along with the wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. There is also the medium pace of Pandya, which is expected to play a key role in the middle-overs.
These are the 13 names that we think the selectors have agreed upon.
The grey areas:
Coming to the two spots still up for grabs…
As the third opener, the team has groomed KL Rahul for a while. However, due to his recent lapse in batting form, he has lost his place from India’s white-ball teams in the tour of Australia and New Zealand. In order to improve his game, the selection committee has drafted Rahul in the India A team to play against the England Lions. In the four outings there, he scored 13, 42, 0 and 89 respectively.
Based on Rahul’s experience and good rapport with the think-tank, the selectors may like to go ahead with him in the World Cup. The Bengaluru boy will however need to score heavily in coming games as well as in the IPL, to strengthen his claim. If his run-drought continues, someone like Prithvi Shaw may emerge as a contender for this spot.
We believer the team management as well as the selection committee will take the final call based on the IPL performances.
The other undecided spot in the World Cup squad is that of the back-up seamer.
The 2019 edition of the World Cup will be a lengthy tournament. Each team is playing a minimum of nine league matches. Plus there’s the semi-final and final. To win the tournament, a team needs to play 11 matches within 40 days, which is quite a hectic schedule.
Ideally the management will like to have proper bench-strength in the pace department. The likes of Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammed Siraj, whom the management has groomed for this role, haven’t performed upto expectation. There is now a genuine chance of Ravindra Jadeja getting the nod as a spinner all-rounder ahead of any relatively inexperienced pace bowler.
Again, the IPL performance is expected to be the deciding factor.
Overall, India seem to have all bases covered and if this unit plays according to its potential, Kohli and Co. will be the team to beat in the World Cup.