With the ICC World Cup 2019 in England just a month and a half away, anticipation and excitement for the tournament is increasing. Now that India has announced the World Cup squad, we are officially on the road to England.
Before going on, let's take a look at India's 15 man squad for the grand event:
India’s squad for the ICC #CWC19 announced: Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MSD (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd Shami— BCCI (@BCCI) April 15, 2019
Now, there are big talking points from this squad as KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar have been preferred over Ambati Rayudu. Also, Dinesh Karthik has been preferred as the second choice wicketkeeper over Rishabh Pant which comes as a surprise to many.
India's top 3 looks settled but with Rahul coming into the mix, it could be possible that the Indian skipper, Virat Kohli could drop down to number 4, something that even Ravi Shastri hinted at.
Another thing that comes as a surprise is that India is going into the tournament with only three front line fast bowlers with Shankar and Hardik Pandya being the batting all-rounders.
England wickets have recently become a little dry in nature but they still assist fast bowlers, so, it looks like Kohli is banking on his spinners.
So, keeping all that in mind, here is how India could possibly lineup for the World Cup 2019:
#1 Openers: Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma
These two have been giving India consistent starts for the last 6 years and both of them would like to continue their form at the grand stage in England.
Shikhar Dhawan becomes a different animal in ICC tournaments and he has been by far the best batsman for India in the ICC Cup competitions. His fast starts at the top will be important for India and he would be looking forward to those flat decks on offer at England.
Rohit, on the other hand, has been one of the most consistent players for India in white ball cricket and he is arguably one of the best openers going around in the world. The vice-captain is a match winner on his day and his tendency to play long innings will come handy in England.
#2 Middle Order: Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar, and MS Dhoni
Virat Kohli is the best batsman in the world and there is saying that your best batsman should get to face the most balls. So nobody should even think of dropping Kohli to number 4 as there is no one more consistent than him at number 3.
The captain should walk in at number 3 and that makes India's top 3 one of the best in the tournament.
In at number 4, should be Vijay Shankar. Shankar has been selected over Ambati Rayudu in the squad and that is down to him having a brilliant tour of New Zealand. Although KL Rahul is also in contention for that spot, he is probably selected as a backup opener to Sharma and Dhawan.
In at number 5 will be MS Dhoni. Dhoni along with Kedar Jadhav has been the glue of this struggling Indian lower middle order. Dhoni's finishing skills will again be put to test in the World Cup and currently, he and Virat Kohli are the chase masters of this Indian squad.
#3 All-Rounders: Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya
In at number 6 will be Kedar Jadhav. Kedar has been used as a floater in this batting lineup but no way should he be sent over MS Dhoni in the World Cup. Jadhav is a proper all-rounder in ODI cricket as his off-spinners are as important as his batting.
Also, Kohli cannot bank on Hardik every match to complete his quota of 10 overs and that is where Jadhav adds brilliant balance to this XI.
Jadhav along with Hardik Pandya will be given the role of finishers in the World Cup. Hardik has been striking the ball magnificently well in the IPL and his six hitting ability will come in handy in the last 5-10 overs for India.
While Hardik would be looking to improve his bowling, he is a much better bowler in ODI cricket than in T20 cricket. India seems to have great options for all-rounders as if the wicket is expected to be a turning one, Ravindra Jadeja can easily replace Hardik or Vijay Shankar in the playing XI.
#4 Bowlers: Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah
These two have been India's go to bowlers and more often than not, they have been successful in breaking partnerships. Chahal has been in great form in the IPL so far and if there were any doubts on his inclusion in the playing XI, they should be cleared after this.
Kuldeep, on the other hand, hasn't had a great IPL so far but he becomes a totally different bowler for India in ODI cricket. These two are wicket takers in this bowling lineup and their abilities will again be put to test at the grand stage.
In the fast bowling department, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are likely to get the nod. Shami has had a brilliant return to white ball cricket and that New Zealand tour has made him an automatic choice for the World Cup.
While Bhuvneshwar Kumar's ability to swing the new ball could come handy in Engaged, expect Shami to play the first match over him.
Bumrah, on the other hand, is the number 1 ranked bowler in ODI cricket at the moment and he is arguably the best death bowler in the world. He is indispensable to this Indian side and he will be looking forward to nailing those yorkers in blue colors.