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“I do not see the IPL having any influence on the World Cup selection. I think that will be a very, very radical sort of analysis”

Virat Kohli has said it loud and clear. India’s World Cup squad will be picked only on the basis of international performances of the players.

Hence, the ongoing ODI series against Australia is nothing but their final-dress rehearsal. And when this piece is being written, the hosts are already 1-0 up in the five-match series and there are just four more international fixtures left for the Kohli and Co. before their first World Cup match against South Africa on June 5 in Southampton.

Also read: Where is the sixth Indian bowler?

Well, if the on-field performances of India’s World Cup probables in recent time are being analysed, we can certainly make an educated guess confirming at least 12 to 13 names for the 15-member England-bound squad. And for the remaining vacancies, the auditions are currently on.

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First, let’s have a look what CricketSoccer believes India’s ideal World Cup is going to be then we will analyse the grey areas for which the think-tank is still undecided.

India’s possible 15-member World Cup squad:

Batsmen: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul.

Wicketkeepers: MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant/Dinesh Karthik

All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja/Vijay Shankar.

Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.

The grey areas:

The author believes, the team management is yet to take a final call on just a couple of spots – second wicket-keeper and a back-up all-rounder.

For the role of second wicketkeeper, it is a straight shoot out between Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. For the first two ODIs of the ongoing series against the Aussies, as MS Dhoni’s back-up, Pant has been drafted in the squad. Whereas, earlier in the tour of Australia and New Zealand (during the 50-over matches) Karthik was tried out. So, the think-tank is giving the duo ample opportunities before taking a final call.

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And in terms of performance, unfortunately, both are yet to make a significant impression. Hence, the next four games against the Australians will play a crucial role. The squad for the last three matches will be picked later this week and it is highly likely that Karthik might get a call-up. In fact, they can even rest Dhoni for a few matches and try both Pant and Karthik in the playing XI.

Now, coming to the back-up all-rounder, again it is a straight-forward battle between Vijay Shankar and Ravindra Jadeja.

It the crystal clear that in recent years with the emergence of Hardik Pandya and two wrist-spinners, Jadeja’s importance in the Indian limited-overs’ squad is not like what it used to be. In fact, for a while, the southpaw was completely out of favour of selectors. But the all-rounder made an impressive return in the Asia Cup. On those dry pitches in Dubai, Jadeja’s bowling added a lot of value in the scheme of things. Furthermore, he also scored crucial runs down the order.

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However, the pitches in England will not be as conducive to spin as it was in Dubai. And with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal there in the squad and people like Kedar Jadhav can roll his arm over, carrying a third spinner will be nothing but a luxury.

In comes Shankar in the scheme of things.

The Tamil Nadu all-rounder was Pandya’s replacement in the tour of Australia and New Zealand. And in the opportunities he got, the youngster has been quite impressive, especially with the bat in hand. Meanwhile, as a bowler Jadeja might be far more superior but on English pitches, Shankar’s medium pace is expected to be quite effective.

So, in this dress-rehearsal period, if he can get the ball rolling, the think-tank might prefer a medium-pace all-rounder, ahead of experienced Jadeja.

Nevertheless, eyes will be on KL Rahul’s performance as well. Though after being dropped from the squad in Down Under, he got runs in the ‘A’ matches and in the two T20Is against the Aussies, but if he wants to confirm his place as a third opener, the Bengaluru boy needs a couple of decent knocks under his belt in the remaining part of the ODI series.

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