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DNA’s India WC 15: No Pant, Shankar

DNMUM433451 | 3/15/2019 | Author : KR Guruprasad, G Krishnan, Taus Rizvi and Rutvick Mehta | WC :1179

As World Cup audition comes to an end with series loss to Australia, we pick the squad for the mega event

Before Australia’s tour of India, the Virat Kohli-led Team India looked more or less a settled line-up for 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. But post the five-match ODI series and a shocking 3-2 loss, the Indian captain must be scratching his head wondering if this was really the team that he had put his money on.
After the final ODI, Kohli claimed to be clear about his XI for the World Cup. How? That only he would know as the team that played the last three ODIs against the Australians — in the absence of rested MS Dhoni — was no where close to the team that routed the opposition in Australia and New Zealand.
Before Indian cricket’s five wise men led by MSK Prasad meet to put down the names of the prospects for the World Cu
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Top order
Shikhar Dhawan
Mat: 13,
Runs: 420
Ave: 35.00,
HS: 143,
100/50: 1/2

Rohit Sharma (V-C)
Mat: 13,
Runs: 556
Ave: 42.76,
HS: 133,
100/50: 1/4

KL Rahul
Mat: 1,
Runs: 26,
Ave: 26.00,
HS: 26,
100/50: 0/0

To begin with, India have a sorted top order, something the other teams can be envious of. To have Rohit Sharma as an opener along with the dangerous Shikhar Dhawan is among the best any team can have. That Dhawan is a southpaw adds variety. Barring the inconsistency part, Dhawan is the one to go for. For the record, he has done well in England in the last two Champions Trophies, and generally performs at his optimum in global ICC events.
A discussion on who would be at one-drop is futile as Virat Kohli, obviously, will play the crucial role at No.3. Kohli’s record speaks for itself and he perfectly suits that position as he has skills to change gears, if needed.
Who is going to be the third opener? This is hardly a debate as India have invested heavily in KL Rahul. That he has not delivered is a different matter. He showed glimpses of his return to form in the T20Is against Australia.

Middle order
Ambati Rayudu
Mat: 10,
Runs: 247,
Ave: 30.87,
HS: 90,
100/50: 0/1

Kedar Jadhav
Mat: 11,
Runs: 290,
Ave: 48.33,
HS: 81*,
100/50: 0/2

Dinesh Karthik (WK)
Mat: 5,
Runs: 75,
Ave: 37.50,
HS: 38*,
100/50: 0/0,
Ct/St: 6/0

MS Dhoni (WK)
Mat: 9,
Runs: 327,
Ave: 81.75,
HS: 87*,
100/50: 0/4,
Ct/St: 4/5

The auditions for the World Cup are over, and the IPL cannot be a platform for it. Who is India’s No. 4? That is something which Kohli will struggle to say. Having experimented with Ambati Rayudu — who did a decent job — for a long time, the skipper suddenly lost patience after a three-match failure of the Hyderabadi. Kohli dropped himself one spot while also trying out Rishabh Pant, who flopped miserably. Among all the options, Rayudu is the safest bet.
The all-experienced MS Dhoni’s position at No. 5 is perfect followed by Kedar Jadhav. Combining forces with Dhoni at the other end, they can steal the game away like they did in the second ODI against Australia.
In the back-up wicket-keeper’s slot, Pant still has a lot to learn. Dinesh Karthik wins the race hands down. Not just for his ’keeping but also his swashbuckling batting, especially while finishing a game.

All- rounders
Hardik Pandya
Mat: 3,
Runs: 61,
Ave: 30.50,
HS: 45,
100/50: 0/0,
Wkts: 4,
Ave: 27.50,
Econ: 5.24,
4w/5w: 0/0

Ravindra Jadeja
Mat: 7,
Runs: 53,
Ave: 13.25,
HS: 24,
100/50: 0/0,
Wkts: 5,
Ave: 68.00,
Econ: 4.93,
4w/5w: 0/0

In the build up to the 2015 World Cup, the Indian team struggled to find a player who could be genuinely termed as an all-rounder. The best they could come up with was Ravindra Jadeja, a quality left-arm spinner whose batting was less than effective.
Jadeja is still around, but this time, Team India has in its armoury someone who can actually do justice to the all-rounder’s tag. Hardik Pandya might have gone through a bit off the field over the last couple of months with injuries and a Koffee gone sour, but there’s no doubt that his presence adds strength to the batting, the bowling and the fielding of the team.
And while Vijay Shankar did reasonably well with the bat against Australia, his medium pace has neither generated enough speed nor noise to dislodge Pandya as the No. 1 all-rounder. That is assuming the latter is fit, of course.

Yuzvendra Chahal
Mat: 7,
Wkts: 16,
Ave: 21.31,
Econ: 5.59,
4w/5w: 1/1

Kuldeep Yadav
Mat: 11,
Wkts: 20,
Ave: 27.35,
Econ: 5.53,
4w/5w: 2/0

Probably the only department where the selectors wouldn’t need to think twice. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have formed a lethal pair over the last year and a half. The wrist-spin duo has bamboozled most batting sides around the world, and although it was less impactful on those flat English decks during India’s ODI series against England last year, the two remain India’s most potent weapon to check the opposition.
Curiously, the team management gave Chahal only one match out of the five against Australia, preferring Jadeja’s left-arm orthodox spin to complement the chinaman Yadav. The reasons could be that Jadeja gives the captain more control with the ball, besides adding some batting strength — on paper, at least.
But come the World Cup, the think-tank would do well to go with both the wrist-spinners, simply because that is India’s strength, and most opposition teams’ weakness.

Fast bowlers
Jasprit Bumrah
Mat: 5,
Wkts: 7,
Ave: 34.86,
Econ: 5.00,
4w/5w: 0/0

Mohammed Shami
Mat: 11,
Wkts: 19,
Ave: 26.42,
Econ: 5.14,
4w/5w: 0/0

Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Mat: 10,
Wkts: 19,
Ave: 22.37,
Econ: 5.24,
4w/5w: 1/0

The team management has tried plenty of options in this department, what with the likes of Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav getting chances over the last couple of years to make a mark.
At the end of it, though, it all comes down to India’s three best fast bowlers across all formats of the game — Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. Shami has been most impressive in the last leg of the run up to the World Cup, bouncing back with speed, fitness and wicket-taking abilities with the fresh cherry as well as in the middle overs.
Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar pick themselves, forming the best death-bowling unit in world cricket at the moment.
This is probably the best fast bowling attack that India will put forward at the World Cup stage, one that could define how deep the team goes in the tournament.

Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant, Khaleel Ahmed, Shreyas Iyer
Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant were given opportunities in the series against Australia, but they didn’t do enough to sneak into the squad, especially the latter. Khaleel Ahmed has been groomed over the last year, and could be added should injury strike any of the pacers. Shreyas Iyer should also be kept in the scheme of things, considering his imperious domestic form lately.

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