ICC World Cup 2023 | Rahul finds a place in squad of no surprises and no off-spinners

The core of the Asia Cup contingent retained with the exception of Prasidh Krishna, Tilak Varma and Sanju Samson who have been named as standbyes; three left-arm spinners — Jadeja, Kuldeep and Axar — make the cut; captain Rohit expresses satisfaction over selection

September 05, 2023 01:51 pm | Updated September 06, 2023 07:12 am IST

BCCI chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar and captain Rohit Sharma during the announcement of team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, in Pallekele on September 5, 2023.

BCCI chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar and captain Rohit Sharma during the announcement of team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, in Pallekele on September 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP

K.L. Rahul, who hasn’t played a competitive game since May, has been included in India’s World Cup squad which hardly has any surprise. It was announced in Pallekele on September 5 by chief selector Ajit Agarkar, along with captain Rohit Sharma.

“K.L. is looking good. We feel this gives us the best balance to try and do well. With K.L., he was part of the camp in Bangalore, he looked really good there, has got over his niggle,” Agarkar said after announcing the squad of 15 that will carry the burden of expectation of 1.4 billion Indians for the Men’s Cricket World Cup.

Also read: ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 | Focus was on eight batters, six bowling options for every game

“He played a couple of games over the last two days. I think he kept for 50 overs and batted for around 50 overs too, so he looks good and we’re happy to have him.”

While Rahul, who arrived in Colombo on September 5 after clearing a fitness test in Bengaluru, and Ishan Kishan have been included as the two wicketkeeper-batters, the selectors have persisted with the core group of the Asia Cup squad members. The three members who have travelled to Sri Lanka and not have found a place in the World Cup squad — Prasidh Krishna, Tilak Varma and Sanju Samson — will be standbyes, according to Agarkar.

While Tuesday was the last day of submitting the squad to the International Cricket Council, it can be altered till Sept. 28 without giving any reason. It gives the selectors and the team management ample time to assess the match-fitness of Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah.

With Axar Patel being preferred as the third spinner, there was no room for an off-spinner. As a result, both R. Ashwin, the veteran craftsman who was a part of the triumphant campaign in 2011, and Washington Sundar, the all-rounder, will feel hard done by.

“Clearly there will be discussions given we have both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel who spin the ball into left-handers. Both give us depth in batting,” Agarkar said.

“Kuldeep takes the ball away. In 50-over cricket, perhaps you would ideally want an off-spinner but this gives us the best balance. Seamers tend to bowl a lot more in ODIs as compared to T20 cricket, and perhaps you are a little more under pressure if you don’t have an offie, but we are happy with the guys we have.”

Rohit was satisfied with the final squad, which he claimed was in sync with the team management’s vision after the last year’s T20 World Cup semifinal exit.

“We are happy. This is the best we can do with balance and depth. We have three all-rounders in the team, four bowlers and six batters,”

Rohit said. “We have thought about it a lot and named this squad. This is the best combination for us.”

The squad: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk.), K.L. Rahul (wk.), Hardik Pandya (Vice-capt.), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav.

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