India’s squad for ICC World Cup in England seems to be more or less a foregone conclusion.
The announcement has been preponed to Monday so as to give the team more time to prepare for the premium 50-over tournament which begins on May 30. The selectors are confident that they have more or less got the team they want, barring a spot or two.
Questions revolve around the No 4 spot, an additional fast bowler and all-rounder.
A few months ago, Ambati Rayadu had almost sealed the spot but his recent dip in form is cause for concern. There are quite a few contenders. Dinesh Karthik has been more or a less a regular in the shorter versions and could easily slot in. His wicketkeeping could also be an additional bonus in case of an injury to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Rishabh Pant, also a keeper, is a player with tremendous potential. He is a destroyer of attacks and he would be a good bet with the future in mind. K L Rahul’s on/off form is a drawback but when he hits top gear, he is a terrific batsman. The selectors must give him some thought.
Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane may not make the cut given the recent trend.
The selectors are also very clear that form in the Indian Premier League (IPL) won’t influence their selections much. So Rahane’s chances are reduced considerably.
The all-rounder’s spot has been held by Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. Challenging Jadeja would be Vijay Shankar, whose batting has been far superior and his bowling ever-improving.
An additional fast bowler to the regular attack of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami would be welcome. Umesh Yadav is the obvious choice. However, the selectors could opt for potential over experience and try them in some of the easier matches.
The selectors have done well by giving the team some extra time for the players to prepare.
With the IPL ending on May 12 and the World Cup starting on May 30, there is hardly any time for the players to switch from one form of the game to the other. There is also a high risk of injury for the players going through the IPL grind.
The selectors would be wise and withdraw the chosen World Cup players for short intervals during the IPL to give them some much needed rest.
The mad dash of the IPL can make players stale and the short break will also refresh them. India unfortunately ended their last series before the World Cup on a negative note. Losing 2-3 to a young Australian side was not an ideal preparation for the World Cup.
There is nothing like playing matches to maintain form. But there can also be an adverse effects if the player continues to have a bad run for an extended period.
On a positive note, India have almost got the perfect combination to win the World Cup again. Hopefully, things will move smoothly before the World Cup and the players will be song again.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
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