The Indian selectors will announce the 15-member World Cup squad on April 15 in Mumbai and while many players pick themselves in the lineup, there could be few surprising inclusions in the squad. Captain Virat Kohli has already said that they are pretty much decided on the players and their spots and that there are one or two spots up for grabs.
Also, both the skipper and the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad believe that IPL performances should not influence the squad since the formats are different. Here, we try to predict the 15-member squad which could be named on April 15.
There is little doubt that India’s chance in the World Cup will be hugely dependent on the top order and Rohit Sharma is an important member of this Indian side. His record in England is quite good as he enjoys playing on the true surfaces offered in the country.
The left-hander finally struck form in the IPL, but he was a sure starter for India in their first match against South Africa. Dhawan loves ICC tournaments and his partnership with Rohit Sharma will be massive for India.
For all his troubles and inconsistencies, there is a lot to like about KL Rahul. The selectors can pick him as the back-up opener in India’s squad. He is in great form in the ongoing IPL and this is when, he should get a game in the playing XI, either in the top order or in that contentious number 4 position.
There were murmurs about Virat Kohli slipping down to number 4 in order to provide more solidity to the batting order, but any such temptations should be shunted away. Kohli at number 3 is a world beater and it should remain so, irrespective of the situation.
The right-hander has found vocal support in Virat Kohli to take up the mantle at number 4, but after brief moments of brilliance, he has not been able to perform consistently. However, the selectors should still stick with him and give him a go at the number 4 position when India take on South Africa for their first match of the tournament.
Kedar Jadhav has the game to adapt and adjust to different situations and while he can be vulnerable when the ball seams and swings around, in English conditions, where the ball generally comes on to the bat in ODI cricket, he can be a good bet in the middle and lower middle order.
Also, he can chip in with the ball, which makes Virat Kohli’s job easier to manipulate his bowlers and keep attacking the opposition in the middle overs.
The veteran will be key for Virat Kohli, both as a player and as an aide from behind the stumps. This year has been a good one for Dhoni so far and now, in what can be his final appearance for India in a World tournament, he would want to bow out with a bang.
The young man has made a stellar beginning to his Test career, but needs to fine tune his game in order to take the side over the line in limited overs cricket. He will be in the squad as a backup wicket-keeper, but the Indian management can use him as a specialist batsman too, and hence, his performances need to be more consistent.
Although, IPL performances might not dictate the squad picked for the World Cup,the selectors and the Indian management will be mighty pleased with the form of Hardik Pandya. In the IPL season so far, Hardik has displayed tremendous hitting form which is just what this Indian side needs in ODI cricket. However, he has to also fine tune his bowling, which will be a critical element to Virat Kohli’s planning.
The IPL has not been a bumper one for Kuldeep, but there is little doubt over his ability, especially in limited overs cricket. He is Kohli’s wicket-taker in the middle overs and his wrist spin is a huge boon for the Indian side.
Chahal has been consistent for Royal Challengers Bangalore this season and come the World Cup, Kohli will use Kuldeep and Chahal in tandem to not only control but also pick up wickets in the middle overs. On flat surfaces, the importance of wrist spinners will be huge and India should use these two to their advantage.
The Indian seamers will be important in England and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with all his experience, has to take the lead. Early strikes with the new ball become imperative and this is where the right-arm seamer will have to step up.
Another X-factor for Virat Kohli – Jasprit Bumrah could be the ace for this Indian team in England. Bumrah will take the new ball, but his biggest impact will be towards the death overs where his wicket-taking prowess will influence the game.
Virat Kohli has always backed Mohammed Shami and finally, the fast bowler has started to be as effective with the white ball, as he is with the red ball. His form in Australia and New Zealand has continued in the IPL so far and along with Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah, he can from a lethal combination in England.
Young Deepak Chahar could well be the surprise pick by the selectors as he has been mighty impressive for the Chennai Super Kings this season. He has the trust of Dhoni and has shown good temperament, which might force the selectors to pick him as the fourth seamer for the marquee tournament.
Predicted 15-member squad: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Deepak Chahar