In just a few months from now, the most awaited cricketing event, the ICC World Cup 2019, will be underway at the home of cricket - England. With the top 10 ODI nations coming together for the event, it certainly promises to be an extravaganza for cricket fans around the world.
Considering the importance of winning the marquee tournament, teams around the world initiate the team building process quite early. And India are no exception.
Over the past few years, the MSK Prasad led team of selectors have worked very closely with head coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli to create an excellent pool of players to represent Team India at the esteemed event.
By the looks of things, it seems that they have successfully built a core team and have covered every aspect to have a successful tour to England. And the brightest feature of that is the emergence of the Indian pace bowling unit.
India have historically been a very strong team but have always lacked a certain sharpness in their bowling attack. In the past, the country has produced some excellent pace bowlers – Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra – but unfortunately they never played together for long.
This time though, Indian cricket is blessed to have discovered three excellent fast bowlers playing in the same era – the new bowling revelation Jasprit Bumrah, the ever-disciplined Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the swing king Mohammed Shami.
Considering the fact that the 2019 World Cup will be in England, the importance of the pace bowling attack goes several notches higher. Without a doubt, the pace bowlers will play a very vital role in Team India’s success.
Now while the team management has zeroed in on three pace bowlers, they may want to have a 4th option for the all-important event just in case of a poor run of form or unfortunate injury mid-way.
Considering the fact that all the other three pace bowlers are right-handed, India may want to take Khaleel Ahmed along to England. The young fast left-arm bowler has been around the team since the last quarter of 2018, and the selectors have wisely invested in him by giving him several opportunities to showcase his skills.
Khaleel hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his bowling so far, but has definitely shown very good signs of improving with every passing game. Though he may lack the experience, being a left-hand bowler, he certainly adds a different dimension to the lethal Indian bowling attack.
Another face bowling option Team India may consider is the tall and well-built Umesh Yadav. He has been around the team since 2010 and continues to play intermittently in all three formats of the game.
Though Umesh may not be a regular in the playing XI, he has the pace and the skills to trouble even the best of batsmen. The team management might just take the lad along to pad up the bench strength and give much-needed breaks to the front-liners in a long and intense tournament.
Lastly, the selectors may just surprise everyone by adding Ishant Sharma to the team. Ishant has now become the spearhead of India’s fast bowling attack in the longest format and has been guiding the new generation of fast bowlers with his decade+ (12 years) experience.
Though Ishant hasn’t played an ODI since 2016, he has been an exceptional performer in the Test matches lately. And considering the experience required for such big tournaments, he may sneak into the team.
Currently ranked No. 2 in the ICC ODI rankings, India seem to have a very well-balanced team now, especially with the availability of an excellent pace battery. Any of the above three players joining Team India as the 4th fast bowling option will only enhance the already dangerous looking attack.