India announces World Cup squad, makes a few surprise selections
India’s journey in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup began as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced the 15-member national squad that will play in the tournament, which is to be held from May 30 in England and Wales.
There have been some notable inclusions as well as exclusions in this Indian team. The major talks being on the lines of the exclusion of Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant, a decision which has baffled many ex-cricketers. The selection of a third spinner- namely Ravindra Jadeja, instead of a fourth seamer is also being termed as a gamble.
Commentator and expert Harsha Bhogle showed his sympathy over the exclusion of Ambati Rayudu and tweeted, “Ambati Rayudu must be shattered though. His place was deemed certain and he had even quit four-day cricket to focus on this. But form is such a cruel mistress. The harder he tried the more he seemed to struggle. My heart goes out to him.”
Ambati Rayudu has averaged in the mid-forties since the Asia Cup but lost a bit of form in the last home series. All-rounder Vijay Shankar’s recent exploits in the home series against Australia led to his selection ahead of Rayudu. Chairman of the selection committee – Mannava Sri Kanth Prasad said Shankar is looked at as India’s number four batsman for the quadrennial tournament. “Vijay Shankar gives three dimensions. He can bat if the conditions are overcast; he can bowl, plus he is a fielder,” Prasad added.
Another debatable exclusion is that of Rishabh Pant, who became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score hundreds in both Australia and England in Test matches. Having consolidated his position as India’s number one wicket-keeper in tests, the selection of veteran Dinesh Karthik, based solely on wicket keeping skill, again, raised some eyebrows.
Former Australian Captain Ricky Ponting rates Rishabh Pant highly, having worked with him closely while coaching Indian Premier League (IPL) side Delhi Capitals. Ponting has classified Rishabh Pant as a cricketer with the ‘X-Factor’. Ponting was surprised on his omission from India’s squad. “I thought he’ll be in the starting eleven, to be honest. Someone like him batting at number four or five, whatever. He’s that sort of player where he could have had that X-Factor about him. He could have been the difference between India and the other ten teams in the World Cup. So yes, I was surprised but I don’t understand the reason why,” Ponting said.
Beyond the middle order conundrum, another issue that might trouble India is their thin pace unit. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are the only front-line pacers. Conditions in England have had a reputation to support fast bowlers, with their typical green pitches and overcast conditions. India will have to field three front-line pacers, who go without back-up if an injury occurs.
Former Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir said that a fourth pacer is the only thing missing in the squad. “If there is something missing in the squad, India lacks a fourth seamer. It is a big and long tournament. You have three seamers. Hardik and Vijay are your all-rounders. That’s why I would have picked Navdeep Saini as the fourth seamer because in those conditions you need someone as a back up to your three seamers,” Gambhir said. He even went on to say that this is a better squad than the triumphant World Cup squad from 2011. Rayudu, Pant and Navdeep Saini have been selected as the three reserves for the World Cup in case any player from the original squad gets injured.
A few surprises in the squad, yet the Indian team looks strong, settled and well balanced. The squad comes with an aggressive batting attack with the likes of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and of course captain Virat Kohli. The bowling unit has also earned the distinction of being one of the best attacks in the world.
India’s World Cup campaign has already begun with this announcement and it will be interesting to see how the BCCI and IPL franchises check and manage the workload of the players ahead of the World Cup. India is to play two warm-up matches against New Zealand and Bangladesh on May 25 and 28 respectively, before its first match against South Africa on June 5.
The 15-member squad is as follows: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), MS Dhoni (WK), Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Featured Image Courtesy: Twitter – Tasleem Arif (@tasleemarifk)
Edited by: Tarush Dhume