The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is less than 50 days away. The most awaited selection, which is of the Indian cricket team will be finalised today at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai. A press conference will be held at 3:00 PM and after that, the final 15 players that will represent India and hope to give glory to the country for the first time since 2011 will be determined. For the last year, the core of the Indian cricket team has been performing consistently in ODIs. With wins in Australia and New Zealand, the Indian cricket team has signaled their intention that they are one of the favorites for the World Cup.
Ahead of the team selection, here are some of the factors which the Indian cricket team will be keenly following.
The No.4 conundrum
The top three of the Indian cricket team, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli select themselves. All three players are proven match-winners and they have the ability to win the bat on their own. “We are not going to give the excuse that we lost the games because we tried out players. As a side, combination wise, we are sorted. Condition-based, there is one maximum change in the World Cup. We are clear on the playing XI for World Cup. We have to focus on the decisions that resulted in our loss. Hardik Pandya's return balances the batting and the bowling. We know where we are going to the World Cup as a combination. We have to take better decisions in pressure situations. There is no confusion relating to combination or the playing XI,” Kohli said after the Delhi ODI against Australia in which India not only lost the match but they also lost the series 2-3.
If one has to look at Kohli’s words, the Indian cricket team has possibly settled on a core and not many changes are expected. The only possible conundrum could be the No.4 situation. For months, Ambati Rayudu was tried but he suffered a lean patch in the middle and was dropped in the middle of the Australia series. In the IPL, Rayudu scored a fifty to get himself back in the reckoning.
The battle for No.4 intensifies with KL Rahul also in brilliant form. Rahul has hit three fifties and a century in the current IPL and going by his current form, it will be hard to ignore him. It will be an interesting situation whether the selectors back Rayudu or Rahul.
The back-up keeper and all-rounder
The rest of the squad has a settled look, with MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav forming the lower middle order. The bowlers are Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Thus, on the bowling front, it will be a very surprising move if the selectors choose anybody else apart from the core mentioned above.
For an extra buffer, the team might choose a back-up keeper. The battle intensifies between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. Karthik has plenty of experience and has also got some ICC experience. Pant, on the other hand, is dynamic and his aggression sets him apart. Pant and Karthik might not get a game in the World Cup due to Dhoni’s presence unless he is rested. With Pant having featured regularly for India, the selectors might opt to pick him in the squad but one can never rule out Karthik.
With Hardik Pandya back in the side, the balance of the side is settled. In case Pandya is injured, the selectors might opt for Vijay Shankar to be the back-up all-rounder in the side. Shankar has been consistent with the bat and also impressed with the ball in the series against New Zealand. Ravindra Jadeja is the other option primarily due to his record in England, where he played a stellar role in India’s title march to the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
The selectors have a massive problem of plenty to deal with. The addition is just one player in the No.4 situation and two or three back-up players but otherwise, the selection on April 15 will be the final touch to cover all bases for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.