The most prestigious cricket tournament - World Cup 2019 - is right around the corner, and will take centre-stage the moment IPL 2019 gets over. India's chief selector MSK Prasad has announced that India's squad will be finalized on 15th April 2019, and there's a lot of speculation regarding a few spots in the team.
India's core squad had been decided quite a while ago, but there remains a bit of uncertainty about who will take up the role of the fourth seamer. They have tried quite a number of players but have been unable to find someone who can complement Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
The World Cup will be held in England, where the conditions are suited to seam and not to spin. India have three decided pacers going in the form of Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and Hardik Pandya. However, Pandya can be quite unreliable at times and it would be safe to go with an extra pacer.
Mohammed Shami seems to have impressed the captain and the selectors a fair bit, and has a good chance of going to England. At the same time, there are a few bowlers who have not done their chances any good with their performances.
Here is a look at three players who are most likely going to miss the plane to England:
#3 Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav was one of the first bowlers in contention for the place of the fourth seamer. His special skill is that he generates pace that most bowlers in India don't. However, in light of his recent performances, it would be safe to say that he is not a part of India's World Cup plans anymore.
Umesh last played an ODI for India in 2018 and has been left out of the squad ever since. He neither has the ability to take a lot of wickets nor be economical. In the four matches that he played in 2018, he took only four wickets and that too mostly of lower order batsmen.
Moreover, he leaked runs at a rate of more than 6 in two matches and more than 7 in the other two. That kind of economy rate is not acceptable in modern cricket.
Umesh's bowling in the death is even worse as he failed to defend 14 runs off the last over against Australia recently. With these kind of performances it would be fair to say that he will not make it to the plane to England.
#2 Siddarth Kaul
Siddarth Kaul had impressed everyone with his performances in the IPL and he was expected to be one of the future stars of India. However, he hasn't quite performed at the international level.
He last played an ODI game for India in 2018 and it would be safe to say that the selectors are not looking at him as the fourth seamer for this World Cup.
In the three matches that he has played in this format, Kaul has gone wicketless, which is where the questions marks arise. Virat Kohli has clearly stated that he'd rather have bowlers in the team who can pick wickets in the middle overs than bowlers who don't get hit for runs.
Kaul could have made a case for himself had his economy been very low, but he is not impressive in that regard either. In the 27 overs that he has bowled, he has been hit for 179 runs which makes his economy an expensive 6.62 an over. This would have been acceptable had he been bowling in the death but Kaul bowls mostly in the middle overs.
Moreover, if he couldn't pick wickets against a relatively weak team like Afghanistan, there is plenty of doubt about whether he will perform against the likes of Australia and England.
#1 Khaleel Ahmed
India had stopped searching for their fourth seamer with the emergence of Khaleel Ahmed, as the left-arm bowler showed a lot of promise and character. He was even considered the successor of Zaheer Khan, but he hasn't lived up to the expectations.
Khaleel had a dream debut in this format when he picked up 3 wickets for just 48 runs in his 10 overs and helped his team to a win. He performed well even in the following matches by taking 8 wickets in 5 matches, picking at least one wicket in every match. His economy rate was also acceptable as he usually kept it to about 6 or below it.
However, the problem was that these performances were coming against teams which had relatively weak batting lineups. His wickets were against Afghanistan, Hong Kong and West Indies.
West Indies do have a decent lineup but when Khaleel was playing them, they were not playing to their full strength and had some players making their debuts.
The problem arose for Khaleel when he played against New Zealand and Australia and failed to pick up even a single wicket. What made matters worse for him is that he went for quite a few runs in both these matches.
It soon became clear to Virat Kohli and Co that Khaleel wasn't ready to face the best batsmen. And with the World Cup having some talented hitters in the fray, Khaleel's chances of making it to the squad are quite dismal.