After years of speculations, paying heed to opinions of several former cricketers and fans, the much awaited day when the Indian squad for the ICC World Cup 2019 will be announced, is finally here!
Before the Indian Premier League began, Indian captain Virat Kohli and the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad stated that the performances of the players in the IPL will not influence the squad selection since the formats are different.
However, experts and fans have analysed and critiqued the probable players’ performances and have come up with their respective squads for the major event that commences from May 30.
Keeping in mind that the tournament will be played in England and Wales, we share a list of 15 players who might get the go ahead.
In the recent past, India has been heavily dependent on the top-order to turn the tide in their favour. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli are the backbone of Indian batting and have made significant contributions time and again.
India’s vice-captain and World No. 2 batsman in the ODIs, Sharma is one of the most consistent openers and has four double-centuries in the limited overs format. Hitman’s record in England is exceptional as he enjoys playing on pitches that stay true throughout. In 15 games, he has scored 687 runs at an average of 57.25 along with two centuries.
Sharma will be accompanied by Dhawan, who also has a healthy average of 65.06 in English conditions. In 17 fixtures, he has 976 runs with three centuries. The duo is India’s first choice as they complement each other well and cause difficulties for the bowlers with the left-hand-right-hand combination.
Virat Kohli, who is currently the No.1 batsman in ODIs, will be the seventh captain to lead India at the World Cup. Kohli, who will be making his debut as a skipper, has come under scrutiny with his captaincy skills after the recently concluded New Zealand and Australia tours.
For Kohli as a batsman, he is one of the greatest of all times and a lot would rely on his shoulders to see India through at crucial junctions.
The top three Indian batsmen form the strongest top order in the world at present. On their day, they can win matches on their own. But once the opposition finds a way through, India’s middle-order has crumbled on several instances.
As far as the reserve opener is concerned, there aren’t any promising candidates apart from KL Rahul. Despite all his troubles and inconsistencies, Rahul will be accompanying the team as the management has moved past Ajinkya Rahane. He might even get a few opportunities as a back-up opener or at the contentious No. 4 position.
The big question mark is over the No.4 spot in the batting order. There have been numerous batsmen who have been tried out for this coveted position. In the recent past, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar have been looked upon.
Rayudu, who has been India's No.4 since last year's Asia Cup, had an indifferent Australia series and has not set the IPL on fire either. Rayudu's form has opened the door for discussion of many more names.
Karthik last played in the ODIs during India’s tour of New Zealand, and while he has been solid in the chances given to him, the performances haven’t been enough to make him stand out in a competitive pool.
The wicket-keeper batsman was ignored in the home series against Australia while Pant was roped in for the last matches in place of MS Dhoni. At around the same time, Pant was given a Grade A central contract while Karthik was demoted to Grade C from B.
Former South Africa cricketer Jacques Kallis, however, feels that Karthik would be critical to India’s chances at the marquee event.
In a recent interview with India Today, he shared, "India will be silly not to pick Dinesh Kartik in the World Cup team. He has the experience and the temperament, and will be critical to India's chances. He should be looked at as the No.4 option.”
The latter's ability to build a long innings has been questioned despite his experience, whereas there are no doubts over Pant's ability to smash the ball at change the complexion of the game.
It has also been learnt that the management is impressed with the emergence of Vijay Shankar as an all-rounder. Shankar is not only a certainty in India's squad for the World Cup, but he's also the favourite to bat at the No. 4 slot for Virat Kohli's side in the showpiece event.
Through consistent performances in this year so far, MS Dhoni has proved his worth all over again. While it is a given that he will be India’s preferred wicket-keeper, it will be interesting to see whether experienced Karthik or youngster Pant is selected as the back-up keeper.
There is a possibility that Dhoni might be used at the No.4 position as he takes time to build an innings nowadays. Using Dhoni up the order will not only give India stability but will also help in setting up a platform for Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya who can play the role of finishers at the death overs.
Jadhav has cemented his position in the playing XI owing to his consistent knocks lower down the order. He averages 48.33 this year and has the ability to break partnerships with his unconventional off-spin bowling.
All-rounders and Spinners:
The two seam-bowling all-rounders, Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar, would be eyeing to fulfil the role of a fifth bowler. The English conditions will offer swing and bounce to tall fast bowlers. Both the pacers would want to hit the deck hard and pitch in with as many overs as possible.
Ravindra Jadeja might get an opportunity if the selectors decide to opt for three spinners. Jadeja is a handy all-rounder who can contribute in all three departments.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be the two front line spinners in the attack. Kohli will use their services in tandem not only to control the run-flow but also to pick up wickets in the middle overs. On flat surfaces, wrist spinners will play a crucial role as they have the ability to deceive the batsmen irrespective of the unfavourable conditions.
In England, the bowlers will have the final say. A lot will depend on how the pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar perform. All three bowlers have been consistently putting in decent performances and have rightfully earned their spot for the tournament.
Bhuvi’s ability to swing the ball in the initials overs will be essential for the Indian team as he has the ability to get early breakthroughs. Bumrah and Shami have been terrific with their yorkers at the death overs and it would be their duty to wrap up the innings with the old ball.
Along with these three pacers, if the management opts to pick another pacer, Umesh Yadav might be considered. Yadav has sheer pace, and whenever he has been given a chance, he has proved his mettle in the game.
In the last few months, there were talks that Khaleel Ahmed could be India’s surprise element in the World Cup. However, Ahmed’s inexperience might work in Yadav’s favour as the latter is familiar with the conditions. With Pandya and Shankar performing dual roles, the probability of having a fourth seamer may be completely ignored.
Probable 15 member squad for the World Cup: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, and Yuzvendra Chahal.
(Featured Image: FB/Indian Cricket Team)
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