Not many surprises as the BCCI Selectors picked India’s 15-man World Cup squad for this summer’s ICC World Cup in England.
Veteran Dinesh Karthik pipped young turk Rishabh Pant in the fight for the second wicketkeeper's slot even as Vijay Shankar got the nod ahead of Ambati Rayudu for the number four batsman.
After Amitabh Chaudhary announced the squad list, Chief Selector MSK Prasad clarified some of the choices made by the five-member selection committee.
Karthik Ahead of Pant
A 37-year-old MS Dhoni is heading to his fourth ICC World Cup this summer but unlike earlier editions, the selection panel has felt the need to send a back-up for the wicket-keeper if he were to pick a niggle during the tournament.
It was a toss between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant and even though Karthik has failed to do much in the ongoing IPL and was not picked for the ODI series against Australia in March, his experience has helped him get the nod.
"“It’s definitely a case we debated a length. In unison we all felt that either Rishabh Pant or DK will only come into the playing XI if Mahi is injured. At that juncture, if it’s an important game, wicket-keeping also matters. So that’s the reason we went ahead of Dinesh Karthik otherwise Rishabh Pant was almost there.”" - MSK Prasad, Chairman of Selectors - BCCI
The chief selector, however, also praised Pant saying, "Pant is full of talent. There's a lot of time for him. It's just unfortunate that he's missed out. Under pressure, we have seen Dinesh Karthik finishing matches. That scored for him."
Jadeja Ahead of Fourth Pacer
In the bowling department, it was a toss between veteran spinner Ravindra Jadeja or a fourth pacer in the 15-man squad but based on his recent show for CSK in the IPL and with the wickets expected to be on the slower side in England, Jadeja made the cut.
The selectors also looked at his batting numbers to count on his all-round abilities, if the need arises.
"“In the last one-one and a half years, it is these two wrist-spinners who have won us games but there might be a situation where you might require an additional all-rounder in the playing XI, which Jadeja brings in. In the second half of the tournament the wickets might be a bit more dry and we thought Jadeja may come in handy and that’s why he’s been picked up.”" - MSK Prasad, Chairman of Selectors - BCCI
In fact the selector also added that the team picked was one of the most balanced sides India has produced. Prasad said, “Apart from the three pacers, we also have Hardik who can bowl. We also have Vijay Shankar. So in the team, apart from the two spinners, we also have Kedar. We have the luxury of 7 bowlers so I think we’ve covered all the basis that way. I’m sure it’s one of the most balanced sides we have produced.”
Vijay Shankar at Number Four
Vijay Shankar has been included in the squad as the number four batsman ahead of Ambati Rayadu. Prasad said that the 26-year-old all-rounder from Tamil Nadu got the nod as he adds "three dimensions" to the team.
"“After the Champions Trophy, we have tried quite a few middle-order batsmen, which also included Karthik, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu but Vijay Shankar gives three dimensions. He can bat, if the conditions are overcast he can bowl, plus he is a fielder. We are looking at Vijay Shankar as a number four batsman. Now we have plenty of options for that slot.”" - MSK Prasad, Chairman of Selectors - BCCI
KL Rahul, who has been included as the reserve opener, can bat in the middle order too, if the team management needs, stated the BCCI chief selector.
Four additional medium pacers will travel to England with the team as practice net bowlers, said Prasad.
India will begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on 5 June.
Squad: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), M S Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik.
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