ICC World Cup 2019: Analyzing India’s squad

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have announced India’s 15-man Team for the World Cup 2019 in England. The Team is as follows:

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

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja are the main players from the 2015 World Cup Team.

The 2019 squad is an experienced one that has most bases secured. KL Rahul has been chosen as a back-up opener to Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, and can play in the middle order too if needed. Dinesh Karthik has been chosen as a back-up wicketkeeper to MS Dhoni.

Vijay Shankar appears to be the back-up pace bowling all-rounder to Hardik Pandya, but the selectors have said that he will bat at No. 4, at least for the first few games.

The selectors have chosen to go with Karthik over Rishabh Pant inferable from the previous’ involvement in pressure situations and superior wicket-keeping skills in the limited overs formats. In any case, he is just liable to play ought to Dhoni an injury.

The choice appears to be appalling on Pant, who is generally perceived as Dhoni’s successor in the limited overs formats. However, freshness and not exactly perfect wicket-keeping skills have meant something negative for his support, in spite of his hard-hitting capacities.

Ambati Rayudu was dropped from the ODI squad after a horrible series against Australia. He will feel hard done by after an excellent 2018 in which he averaged 56 from 10 innings and had all the earmarks of being the answer for India’s No. 4 issue. A poor 2019 in which he averaged 30.88 from 10 innings appears to have gone against him.

While the insights are not for KL Rahul’s selection – he as of now midpoints 34.3 in 13 innings – his versatility and strike rate (as seen in T20 cricket) lend him an advantage over other possible options such as Ajinkya Rahane, who has had issues with his strike rate and approach during the middle overs.

The choice may appear to be unforgiving on Rahane, who inspired as a reinforcement opener in 2017 with a normal of 48.83, was then attempted at No. 4, and disposed of after that.

In an unexpected move, India have gone with only three specialist fast bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and two pace-bowling all-rounders in Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar. With two of Bumrah, Shami and Bhuvneshwar expected to play in every match, and Shankar and Pandya more batsmen than bowlers, a backup fast bowler would have been ideal for this squad.

It can likewise be perused as a damning indictment of all the options considered. Umesh Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, Shardul Thakur and Siddarth Kaul were all tried, but none of them impressed enough to be selected.

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are the main spin bowling options, having shaped a powerful and undermining bowling partnership. Regardless of whether they both play in a similar XI or not comes down to conditions, with Kedar Jadhav capable enough to play as second spinner should the need arise. Kuldeep appears to be the primary spin bowling option in the XI.

Ravindra Jadeja is the back-up all-rounder, spinner and fielding substitute for the team. While he has not impressed enough with the bat or ball in recent times, his fielding and the threat of his bowling on drier tracks have kept him in contention.

This is a strong squad that can contain up to seven bowling options in the XI for Kohli, Rohit, and Dhoni to strategize with. But the flimsiness of the middle order is a concern, with the bulk of the runs expected to come from Kohli, Rohit and Dhawan.

How they use Kuldeep throughout the tournament will also be crucial. England showed last year that he can be easily strategized against if opposition players see enough of his bowling.