The selectors today announced Team India’s 15-member squad for the upcoming 50-over World Cup in England and Wales. As expected, Virat Kohli will lead the side while Rohit Sharma will serve as his deputy.
While most of the players pick themselves, there was a lot of debate surrounding the number 4 spot in the lineup as well as the backup wicket-keeper role. The selectors finally opted for the experience of Dinesh Karthik over the exuberance of Rishabh Pant.
KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar were also preferred over Ambati Rayudu for the number 4 spot. In the bowling department, the selectors opted to go with only three seamers in the form of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and three spinners in Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Ravindra Jadeja.
India did reasonably well at the previous World Cup, losing out to eventual champions Australia in the semi-finals. They head into the 2019 World Cup as one of the favourites for the title along with England.
Here, we take a look at three reasons why India’s 2019 squad is better than the one they had at the 2015 World Cup.
#1 Better depth
This current squad is among the best India have ever had. They have adequate depth in almost every department. The luxury of having Mohammed Shami as a back-up seamer speaks volumes of the squad depth.
Ravindra Jadeja has matured as a cricketer and is a handy option to have in case any of the frontline spinners get injured. In the batting department, India can call upon the services of Dinesh Karthik, while Vijay Shankar is also a handy option to have up their sleeve in a long tournament.
Comparing this to the 2015 squad, where India had an inexperienced Ambati Rayudu as a back-up batsman, it is clear that they are much stronger at present. Moreover, in 2015, Stuart Binny and Axar Patel were the back-up all-rounders while Mohit Sharma and an inexperienced Shami were the back-up seamers.
#2 Wrist spinners
Wrist-spinners have proved to be the X-factor in limited-overs cricket. While India had capable spinners in the 2015 World Cup in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the duo weren't as attacking as India’s current spin twins of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Both Ashwin and Jadeja are defensive in their approach and rely on the batsmen making mistakes rather than forcing errors themselves. On the other hand, Kuldeep and Chahal entice batsmen into making mistakes by flighting the ball and deceiving them in the air.
They have numerous variations in their repertoire to bamboozle the batsmen. They are not afraid to toss the ball up and are even prepared to get hit for a few boundaries if it results in wickets further down the line. These two have shepherded many victories for Team India in overseas conditions like South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand and they will be Kohli's go-to options in England.
#3 A genuine all-rounder
Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel were picked as all-rounders by the selectors for the 2015 World Cup. All these cricketers are bits-and-pieces players capable of contributing to a certain extent, but lacking any real dynamism.
This time around, India have Hardik Pandya as a genuine all-rounder in the playing XI. Hardik has polished his batting skills in the recent past and is in destructive form in the IPL, hitting sixes at will.
The swinging conditions in England would also provide him with an opportunity to showcase his bowling skills. Hardik is also a live-wire on the field and is amongst India’s best fielders.
Meanwhile, India can also call upon Vijay Shankar in case Hardik Pandya struggles to make an impact. Shankar is a very capable batsman and can bowl 4-5 tight overs with his military medium bowling.