The Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), MS Dhoni (WK), Shikhar Dhawan, Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik
The Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI) announced the 15-member Indian squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Monday. The selection committee meeting was attended by skipper Virat Kohli and the five-man selection panel led by MSK Prasad. Along with the usual suspects, interestingly all-rounder Vijay Shankar and back-up keeper Dinesh Karthik got the nod of the think-tank ahead of Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant. Furthermore, Ravindra Jadeja has been preferred as the third all-round option in the squad, ahead of a fourth specialist seamer.
The selectors have also announced that four additional pacers – Navdeep Saini, Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar – will be travelling with the team in England as back-up net-bowlers.
Meanwhile, let’s dig deep and analyse this 15-member contingent, which is being considered as the top favourites for this World Cup.
Strong batting line-up with plenty of middle-order options
In ODIs, a vulnerable middle-order has been India’s prime concern in recent years. Barring the top three (Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli), there has been a lack of consistency amongst the rest of the batsmen. Hence, in the World Cup squad, the selectors have tried to plug that hole by injecting more quality options.
For example, in this unit, there are at least five batsmen, who can be used at No. 4 – the most talked about batting position in India’s white-ball teams in the past couple of years. However, the chief selector Prasad has confirmed that Shankar is the first-choice option for that job. In case if he fails, KL Rahul and Karthik are lined up to grab that slot.
Overall, batting is the strength of this team.
Preferred top-five: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni
Quality all-round options
When it comes to all-rounders, India have quite a few options to choose from. Hardik Pandya and Shankar are the most likely players who are expected to be in the starting XI. Both of them will be crucial in the scheme of things of the management during the tournament and their seam-up bowling suits the English pitches as well.
If conditions permit or one of their specialist spinners has some sort any injury or a slump in form, Jadeja will be an ideal replacement. And let’s not forget his contributions in the field, even if he is only being used as a substitute. Also, there is Kedar Jadhav, who along with his batting skills, is a more than decent bowling option as well.
Preferred all-rounders in starting XI: Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav
In case of any unforeseen circumstances, apart from Dhoni, India have the options of using Karthik or even Rahul with the keeping gloves. So, technically there are three possible wicket-keeping options in the squad.
Preferred wicket-keeper: MS Dhoni
Depth in bowling department
The most impressive thing about this Indian World Cup squad is its’ versatility in the bowling department. On a given day, Kohli can have as many as seven strong strong bowling options in the XI. Though the bulk of the responsibilities with the ball will have to be looked after by their five specialists – the pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar alongside the two wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
However, considering the workload in the World Cup, perhaps India are one specialist pacer short in the squad. But in hindsight, they have Pandya and Shankar, who will share the responsibilities. In fact, with two pace-bowling all-rounders in the XI, the team management has the luxury of rotating the mainstream seamers.
In the middle-overs, India have the two wicket-taking options of Kuldeep and Chahal and this can turn out to be the “X-factor” of this bowling attack.
Overall, their bowling seems to have every base covered and keeping in mind the depth in quality in this line-up, if we consider this attack as the best amongst its counterparts in the 10 participating teams in the competition, it won’t be an exaggeration.
Preferred specialist bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal
India are going to start their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5 at the Ages Bowl in Southampton.