Indian World Cup squad analysis | Current form, skills may have clinched it for Rahul, Karthik

K.L. Rahul (batting) looks the preferred choice for No. 4 while the selectors opted for Dinesh Karthik's skills and experience over Rishabh Pant. File   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Bolstered with consistent performances over the years despite the blip of losing 2-3 at home against Australia, and also ranked second in the International Cricket Council’s ODI rankings, India had its nucleus ready for the upcoming World Cup in England, from May 30.

Most of the players picked themselves and the few lingering questions were specific to some spots and about the probable swaps between personnel. The jigsaw puzzle was solved when the team was announced at Mumbai on Monday.

Virat Kohli leads a unit that always had batting acumen bordering on the explosive and the ambiguity over the No.4 batting slot was quelled when K.L. Rahul was preferred over Ambati Rayudu. Rahul has been in terrific form while turning out for Kings XI Punjab and so far he has churned out a hundred and three fifties. The immediacy of his form scored over the incremental value that Rayudu accrued over the years and the fact that Rahul can also don the wicket-keeping gloves, tilted the scales in his favour.

The other bone of contention was the second wicket-keeper’s spot with Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant being in the fray. Both can bat at the death, and have the shots to scatter the bowlers but as the selection committee chairman M.S.K. Prasad said, Karthik’s skills with the gloves, presumed relatively better than that of Pant, came in handy and the Tamil Nadu cricketer gained the selectors’ nod.


India has always obsessed with the seam-bowling all-rounder, a fetish that has plagued the cricket set-up ever since the great Kapil Dev hung his boots in 1994. Many have been saddled with the onerous tag of being the next Kapil and subsequently withered away. The quest, however, continues.

Pitches in England, may have flattened out over the years but under the whimsical weather patterns at the Old Blighty and under low-slung clouds, a seam bowler, who can also bat, can be crucial. Be it at wheeling their arms over for a few overs when the regulars seek rest at fine-leg or third-man, or papering over the cracks with a brisk knock while batting, both Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar ticked all the boxes and got picked in tandem. Prasad even hinted that Shankar could be pencilled in at No.4.

Ravindra Jadeja, with his niggardly left-arm spin, some big hits and athletic fielding, gets a look-in. The busy cricketer can be a vital resource. The rest of the squad, with its blend of good batsmen ranging from Rohit Sharma to M.S. Dhoni; wily spinners and a pace attack that has the incisive Jasprit Bumrah, seemed set in stone, even before Prasad and company dipped their cookies in tea and mulled over the Indian unit’s composition.

India’s outfit seems fine but before the players can prime themselves for their opening game against South Africa at Southampton on June 5, there is the small matter of the current Indian Premier League to contend with. The last thing that is needed is an injury, picked up in the anxious twists and turns of Twenty20 cricket. Kohli’s men could do without that.

The team

Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd Shami

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 4:07:26 AM |

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