The selection of India's squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 has been the biggest talking point for the last couple of months. There was a tough competition for a couple of spots in the final 15 and the players who eventually missed out might consider themselves extremely unlucky.
Nonetheless, the selection part is done and dusted and now it's time to see how the team management can make full use of the players they have in the squad.
Here is India's World Cup squad:
Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
The selectors have named a strong squad giving plenty of options to the captain and the team management. We will look at the different team combinations the Indian team can field in the World Cup.
#1 Playing with a combination of 2 spinners, 2 pacers, and 3 all-rounders
This will perhaps be India's playing XI for its opening match. Chief of Selection committee, MSK Prasad, has made it very clear that Vijay Shankar will be the team's preferred choice for the number four position. Shankar has been in good form with the bat since his debut in ODIs.
However, the team will want him to contribute with the ball too. England's pitches are likely to be flat and thus, the spin twins, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, will have the difficult task of strangling the opposition batsmen in the middle overs.
The team management will have to make a choice between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohd Shami. Even though Shami has been in terrific form, the team might go with Bhuvi in the initial part of the tournament.
Combination 1: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.
#2 Playing with an extra all-rounder and Mohd Shami
In case, team India prefers Mohammed Shami over Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja might be included in the playing XI at the expense of Yuzvendra Chahal. Since his comeback in the ODI format, Shami has bowled with pace and aggression. He was even named the man of the series in the ODI series against New Zealand.
On the other hand, Bhuvi hasn't been at his best since his return from a back injury. Kohli likes to have genuine fast bowlers in the side and thus, Shami might get more chances. In Bhuvi's absence, team India can get in Jadeja in the lineup to increase the batting depth.
Jadeja's all-round abilities will provide flexibility to the team.
Combination 2: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
#3 Playing KL Rahul at number 3
Before the start of IPL 2019, KL Rahul was not assured of a place in India's World Cup squad. And even though selectors have reiterated again and again that IPL form would have no bearing on the final selection, Rahul's scintillating form in the IPL was surely a reason behind his selection.
However, with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan in the team, Rahul might find it difficult to play as an opener, his favored role. Thus, if the team management wants him to play he will have to be accommodated in the middle order.
Rahul's numbers batting at number four are far from impressive and thus he might be slotted in at number 3 with Kohli shifting down the order.
There is no doubt that Virat Kohli is best suited for batting one down, but Ravi Shastri has already stated that the team is open to the idea of Kohli batting at number 4.
Combination 3: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
#4 Promoting Dhoni at number 4 and getting in 3 seamers
Dhoni's batting position has been a matter of debate in the recent past. The 37-year-old has, for the most part of his career, played as a finisher. However, in the past few years, Dhoni has found it difficult to get going right from the word go.
Thus, there have been talks about sending him to bat at number 4, giving him more time to use the long handle. The likes of Rohit Sharma have also endorsed the idea of Dhoni batting at number four.
Team India might make this choice in case the bowlers are out of form. Moreover, pitches in England are likely to be batting paradise and thus the team management might want to play with 3 fast bowlers.
Bumrah, Bhuvi and Shami bowling in tandem will be a treat to watch for Indian fans.
Combination 4: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
#5 Playing Dinesh Karthik as a finisher
One of the biggest decisions that the selectors were supposed to make was whether to go for the young and dynamic Rishabh Pant or the experienced, calm-headed Dinesh Karthik. Karthik got the nod ahead of Pant because of his superior wicketkeeping skills and his ability to bat in pressure situations.
Even though he can bat at any position in the batting order, Karthik has had most of his success batting as a finisher. The Wicketkeeper batsman will be keen to enhance his reputation as that of a finisher in the World Cup.
Moreover, with MS Dhoni finding it difficult to play the role of a finisher, the team management might try Karthik in that role at some point of time in the tournament.
Combination 5: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah