India's 15-man squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales was announced at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai on Monday (April 15). Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant have not been included in the squad while Dinesh Karthik, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja have found places. The team will be captained by Virat Kohli while Rohit Sharma will be his deputy. MS Dhoni is the first-choice wicketkeeper.
India's squad for ICC World Cup 2019:
Virat Kohli (C)
Virat Kohli will lead India as captain for the first time in an ICC World Cup tournament. This will be the third World Cup tournament of his career. Kohli was also a part of India’s trophy winning campaign in 2011 and would hope he could win it as captain this time around.
Rohit Sharma (VC)
Rohit Sharma has been included in the side as the vice-captain. The batsman has led India in Kohli’s absence on a few occasions since last year and has never lost a series. This will be the second World Cup for Sharma, as he featured for the men in blue in the 2015 World Cup tournament.
Shikhar Dhawan has been picked in the side as India look to stick to the successful opening pair of Sharma and Dhawan. The duo were in prime form last year, during the Asia Cup and West Indies series. But the form has taken a hit this year, as both Sharma and Dhawan pulled off inconsistent performances. India would hope the pair come off good at the World Cup.
KL Rahul has been selected as the back-up opener for India, in case Sharma and Dhawan pick up an injury or fail to perform. The right-handed batsman returned to India’s side in the series against Australia, in which he scored a half century in the T20Is. Coach Ravi Shastri, in an interview, had said that India could look to use Rahul as the number three option while pushing Kohli down to number four position in the World Cup. It might solve India’s perennial number four woes, which might have prompted the selectors to include him in the side.
Vijay Shankar could be summed up as one of the surprise inclusions in the team. Since the Asia Cup last year, Ambati Rayudu was seen as the number four choice for India. But his recent struggles against Australia and New Zealand paved way for Shankar to make his case. The Tamil Nadu allrounder has shown the ability to hit big shots, coming down at no. 4, and also has proved to be an effective death-bowling option.
MS Dhoni (WK)
At 37, MS Dhoni has been selected as India’s primary wicketkeeper. This will be his fourth World Cup campaign for the men in blue and is likely going to be his final. It will only be the second time Dhoni will not enter as the captain in a World Cup tournament. Kohli’s captaincy has been questioned of late, and many cricket pundits have suggested that Dhoni’s presence makes Kohli a better captain. Dhoni’s form with the bat has also improved in 2019 and he could be a key player for the side.
Kedar Jadhav restored the faith in selectors when he went on to win a couple of games for India against Australia, along with MS Dhoni, in January. The allrounder has shown that he has the ability to settle down a side, and accelerate in the death overs. He has also shown the ability to pick up wickets in the middle overs, which makes him an asset for the side.
There was a lot of debate over who should be MS Dhoni’s understudy at the World Cup – Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik. Despite Pant delivering better performance than DK in IPL, the selectors have gone ahead with DK as their pick. The reason, for the selection, is that the Tamil Nadu cricketer is viewed as a better keeper than the Delhi youngster, according to MSK Prasad. It means that unless Dhoni is injured or ill, it is unlikely Karthik will get a chance to feature in playing XI for India throughout the tournament.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been the pick among the bowlers for India since the limited-overs series against South Africa last year. The leggie also carried on his form in the IPL, and is among the leading wicket-takers. Chahal has the ability to pick up crucial wickets in the middle overs, even though he could prove to be a tad bit expensive at times.
Kuldeep Yadav has been the perfect ally to Chahal since last year. When the two spinners bowl in tandem, they are always able to produce their best. The combination of Kuldeep and Chahal are touted to be India’s biggest strength going into the World Cup.
The seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been in and out of India’s team due to injuries in the past couple of years. At one point, he was regarded as the best death bowler India has produced since Zaheer Khan. But the right-armer’s form has taken a dip and his speed has slowed down a bit. He has been picked as India’s third seamer in the tournament, and may have to sit on the bench, with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami being the frontline bowlers.
During a Mumbai Indians match in the ongoing IPL tournament, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah went down on the ground, injured. All of a sudden, Twitter went ablaze with Indian cricket fans hoping and praying for Bumrah’s well-being. This is a testament to Bumrah’s importance in India’s 15-man squad. The right-armer is India’s primary fast bowling option at the World Cup, and many cricket pundits, and fans, believe that he could be the match-winner for India on fast UK pitches.
Hardik Pandya is likely to be India’s primary allrounder in the playing XI, despite his fitness concerns. Pandya has the ability to fire quick boundaries in the death overs. He also has proven to be an effective wicket-taking bowling option in overseas conditions. Even though he has been in-and-out of the side due to controversies and back injuries, it is likely that India include him in the side in every game at the World Cup.
Ravindra Jadeja played his first ODI in 14 months last year at the Asia Cup with Pandya getting injured. Since then, he has proven to be an effective asset into the side, with both bat and the ball. On the eve of World Cup squad selection, the left-armer won the match for Chennai Super Kings against Kolkata Knight Riders, scoring an unbeaten 31 in 14 balls. But despite all his plaudits, Jadeja would have to compete for a position in the playing XI against Pandya or Chahal, which might make things difficult for him.
Mohammed Shami has returned a changed bowler since controversies and injuries derailed his career last year. The overseas tours to Australia and New Zealand have improved his skills, and he is starting to trouble the oppositions’ batsmen with the new ball. The fast bowler was impressive in the series against Australia, and thus, he is likely to be India’s second seamer choice in the playing XI, along with Bumrah.