The Men in Blue have been at their dominating best in the 50 over format this year, winning historic bilateral series against Australia and New Zealand on the trot. The ruthless domination in all the departments of the game, with the core members as well as the bench strength performing, augurs well for the subcontinental juggernaut ahead of the all important World Cup 2019.
With India eyeing their second World Cup title on English soil, it is imperative to have backups for each department, in case of any unforeseen event. The management has kept this factor in mind, and constantly tested the bench, which has acted as a morale booster for the individuals as well as the side.
Let's explore the backup options for each department of Team India:
#1 Top Order - Shubman Gill
The Top 3 of India - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, arguably form the strongest top order in the world at present. While Kohli sits at the apex of the ICC Rankings, Rohit immediately follows him, with Dhawan following them both at the tenth spot.
This gives us a good idea about the importance of the three in the mix of things. In the majority of the matches that India has won of late, at least one of them has played the role of anchor. This makes the presence of the trio indispensable to the team's fortunes at the marquee event.
The player who can form a backup at the top is Shubman Gill, the lad being termed as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Although Gill could not make much of an impact after taking captain Kohli's spot in the last two games of the NZ series, he is certainly destined for great heights.
A sound technique and a sturdy temperament up his case for the World Cup spot. Further, he has a fair amount of experience of English surfaces, having been a part of the India A squad. If the need arises, Gill can fill any one of the spots in the top order and justify it with diligence.
#2 Middle Order - Dinesh Karthik
The middle order, which had been a constant conundrum post the 2015 World Cup, finally seems to be settling in 2019. MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav have started showing signs of solidity in the face of adversities.
Dinesh Karthik has featured in 5 ODIs in 2019, and has been in a rich vein of form of late. He has gone strength to strength ever since his heroics in the Nidahas Trophy final.
The 33-year-old has assumed the role of a finisher, and has discharged it efficiently, keeping his nerve and taking the team cross the line in the limited overs formats. In case of any anomaly in the state of affairs of the middle order, Karthik may find himself taking field in the World Cup.
#3 Wicketkeeper - Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant
The Indian middle order is currently packed with wicketkeepers. However, in all probability, MS Dhoni is going to don the gloves, given his insane speed and ability to read the game behind the stumps.
Given the fitness levels of MSD, it seems highly unlikely for him to miss any game. But if the need arises, Karthik and Rishabh Pant may well be good prospects to stand in for him.
While Karthik assumed the keeper's duties in a couple of games against NZ, Pant donned the gloves against Australia in the shortest format in the absence of Dhoni.
With both Karthik and Pant having the experience of keeping against the swing in England, they form ideal backups for MS Dhoni.
#4 All-rounder - Vijay Shankar
Given the pace-friendly nature of English pitches, it would be imperative for India to have a seam all-rounder in their ranks. Hardik Pandya is expected to assume the reins, given his athleticism and hard-hitting abilities towards the end. He has also exhibited good form with the ball post his return.
The player who forms an ideal backup for Pandya is Vijay Shankar. The 28-year-old has been highly succcessful in the domestic setup, and has shown decent signs of form in the few ODIs he has played.
Shankar played an important knock in his first ever ODI innings against New Zealand, helping India score a respectable score. Although he may not be as experienced as Pandya, Shankar is India's best bid in the absence of the former.
#5 Spinner - Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja has not put a step wrong in any match post his return to the Indian side in the Asia Cup. He has consistently delivered in all formats of the game and in all the departments, and has been most impressive with the ball.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been India's lead spinners since the last year, with the Indian KulCha proving to be quite hot for all the other teams - even in their own backyards. With the World Cup being held in England, and India having Kedar Jadhav chipping in with some overs, it is highly possible that only one spinner would make the cut in the playing XI.
However, if the need arises, Jadeja can form a third spinning option for the side, with his athletic fielding and ability to whack the ball being an added advantage.
#6 Fast Bowler - Umesh Yadav
The seam department is the most settled department of the Indian side along with the top order. The three frontline seamers of India are as threatening as the top three batsmen. While Jasprit Bumrah forms the spearhead, swing kings Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami promise to form the other two pillars of the pace attack.
With the fast bowlers being prone to injuries, it is imperative for India to have a backup seamer for the World Cup. They have a variety of options to choose from, with Deepak Chahar, Siddarth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammad Siraj being in contention.
However, the best bet is Umesh Yadav, with his destructive pace and ability to execute the yorker at the death. While Yadav has been in and out of the limited overs squad for a while now, he forms the best option given his experience and ability.