The BCCI has recently announced the 15-member squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup, with Virat Kohli leading the side and Rohit Sharma named as the vice-captain. India will face South Africa in their first match, on the fifth of June.
There’s been a lot of debate about how India will go into the World Cup, but it’s the nation’s bench strength rather than their playing XI that is prompting these uncertain questions.
Two months out from the first match of the World Cup, this is my Indian squad.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer.
Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya.
MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
The Indian top three are the most dependable and destructive starting players in ODI cricket. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan complement each other perfectly, with one playing as a strokemaker and the other taking on bowlers from ball one.
Virat Kohli’s numbers in one-dayers are phenomenal, and he will continue to excel to end up as the best ODI batsman of all time by te time he calls curtains on his career.
Rishabh Pant doesn’t have the greatest numbers in white-ball cricket, but nor did Adam Gilchrist. What changed Gilly’s career, though? A promotion to open the batting. While I’m not saying Pant will overtake Rohit or Dhawan, he will be a good backup opening option.
Ambati Rayudu has delivered only once at No. 4, which was a dead rubber outside the Subcontinent. He’s too susceptible in English conditions to go for me. While I’ve chosen Shreyas Iyer, either Manish Pandey and Shubman Gill could also come into the frame depending on how they go in the IPL.
The series loss to Australia showed how much India need Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar together in their playing XI. They complement each other, and Kedar Jadhav’s unpredictable part-time off spin alongside his 360-style batting keeps him in the squad.
MS Dhoni has surprised me this year. He’s played quite a few matchwinning knocks, and his tactical nous will help Kohli in the field. Dinesh Karthik’s ability to win matches and stay until the end will be crucial for India. He will be used sporadically but will win matches for his country.
India have always known who their main seamers will be, but after experimenting with the likes of Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Siddarth Kaul, no-one had a clue who would be the backup to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. In comes Mohammad Shami. He hadn’t played an ODI since the 2015 World Cup semi-final, but now he seems to be challenging Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a starting spot come World Cup time.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – nicknamed the Kul-Cha duo – have been phenomenal since they’ve come in post-Champions Trophy, but recently they haven’t been able to play together due to Hardik Pandya’s injuries. But if Pandya is fully fit come World Cup, they will both play together and cause trouble in English conditions.