Hyderabad: The suspense is over. There is no Ambati Rayudu or Rishabh Pant in the 15-member team announced for the one-day World Cup, to be held in England from May 30.
Instead, Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik got the nod ahead of Hyderabad experienced batsman Rayudu and Delhi swashbuckling batter Pant.
Announcing the team, chairman of National selection committee, MSK Prasad said they had long deliberations before zeroing the Virat Kohli-led 15-member team. It was all about a choice between Rayudu and Vijay Shankar for the middle order slot and for the second wicketkeeper place between Karthik and Pant.
Giving reasons for Shankar’s selection over Rayudu, Prasad said the TN all-rounder, who plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL, was a three-dimensional player. “After the Champions Trophy, we tried quite a few people (at No.4). We gave a few more chances to Rayudu. What Vijay Shankar brings is three-dimensional. We are looking at him at No. 4 to begin with.”
Prasad hinted that if the need arises KL Rahul, who has been selected as third opener, could bat in the middle order. “To begin with, KL Rahul will be reserve opener. If need arises the team management will take a call on him playing in the middle-order.” Of course, the other debate was on whether should Pant make it to the World Cup squad but in the end, the five-member selection committee went for the experienced Karthik. In fact, according to Prasad, it was debated at length. “We all were in unison that either Pant or DK will come in only when Mahi is injured. In an important game wicket-keeping is also important. That’s the reason we went with Dinesh Karthik.’’
Indian opening legend Sunil Gavaskar was surprised with Pant being overlooked for this premier tournament. “A bit surprised, looking at his (Pant’s) form. He was batting exceptionally well, not only in the IPL but before that also. He was showing great improvement his wicket-keeping as well. He brings that left-handed option in the top-six which is very handy against the bowlers,” he said.
There have been other reactions also on Pant’s omission. Former England captain Michael Vaughan was surprised and said “India must be bonkers!!!!!
But former Test cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, now a commentator, was stunned with Karthik getting a nod over Pant. He felt although it is impossible to keep everyone happy, but Karthik’s inclusion was surprising. He blamed that the selectors, who he thought were inconsistent, particularly after Karthik was discarded in January last year, he said, adding that Shankar was a lucky man to make it.
Gavaskar was, however, happy with Shankar’s selection. “He is a cricketer who has improved over the last one year. He has grown in confidence. Shankar is a very useful cricketer. He is a very, very good batsman, handy bowler, and an outstanding fielder
What went wrong against Rayudu? His poor scores in the Australian one-day series and followed by inconsistency in IPL also proved to be his undoing. The 33-year-old had retired from first class cricket and so that he could focus in shorter format of the game. But former Hyderabad players felt that that decision backfired Rayudu. “Surely, he should have at played least four or five first class matches as this could have given him good match practice for the long season. He hardly played matches before the Australian tour.’’
Rayudu, who was in the 2015 World Cup squad, had waited for this England edition. That is over now.
There was another debate on whether an extra seamer or a spinner should go to England. But the selectors went for left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who is also an exceptional fielder, for this important assignment.
“In the last one and half years, it is these two wristies (wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav), who have won us the games but there might be situations where, you require an additional all-rounder in the playing 11, (this is) where Jadeja comes in.”
Prasad further added. “And in the second part of the tournament, when the wickets will be more dry, we felt Jadeja will be handy.’’
In the process, pacer Umesh Yadav missed the bus. The team will have Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd Sami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar with Hardik Pandya and Shankar being the all-rounder who can bowl seam.
A prolific run-getter and considered one of the modern greats of the cricket, Kohli leads the Indian team in the World Cup. Having played two World Cups, he has transformed into the master of chases. He amassed 41 centuries, second only to Sachin Tendulkar, is key to India’s chances in the mega tournament. Along with openers, he will be key in India’s batting order.
Matches: 227; Runs: 10,843; Best Score: 183; Average: 59.57; 100s: 41; 50s: 49. World Cup: 2011, 2015
He has been retained as vice-captain for the World Cup. Sharma is one of the most destructive openers in ODI cricket. He is the only ODI batsman with three double centuries to his name. He opened the batting for India in the 2015 World Cup and finished as the second leading run-scorer for Team India with 330 runs.
Matches: 206; Runs: 8010; Best score: 264 no; Average: 47.39; 100s: 22; 50s: 41. World Cup: 2015
The elegant left-hand opener forms a formidable combination with Rohit Sharma at the top of the order and has provided several blistering starts to Team India that proved crucial in the past. He is in fine form and he proved his mettle as a key player in English conditions by top-scoring in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 with 363 runs with an average of 90.75. His form at the top will determine Team India’s chances.
Matches: 128; Runs: 5,355; Best Score: 143; Average: 44.62; 100s: 16; 50s: 27. World Cup: 2015
The classy opener has a huge potential. The 26-year-old has all the shots in his armoury. Having roped in as a backup opener, he can bat at No.4 or 5 as well. Putting behind the controversy that saw him suspended for a while, Rahul has regained form in the ongoing IPL with a century. His selection will provide good options for the captain and the coach.
Matches: 14; Runs: 343; Best Score: 100*; Average: 34.30; 100s: 1; 50s: 2. World Cup: Debut
The 33-year-old wicketkeeper batsman has proved himself as a valuable player, particularly with his finishing skills of late. Despite loads of experience, the Chennai cricketer failed to figure in any of the World Cup because of the tough competition. But he finally made it to the squad on back of some good performances in the recently-concluded series, where he became India’s new finisher.
Matches: 91; Runs: 1738; Best Score: 79; Average: 31.03; 100s: 0; 50s: 9. World Cup: 2007
The legendary Indian wicket-keeper batsman, also a master finisher, would be aiming to finish his last World Cup with a bang. He led India to 2011 World Cup title, which came after 28 years. Being the most experienced player in the side, Dhoni’s vital inputs in the field, in addition to his batting prowess would be invaluable for both skipper Virat Kohli and his bowlers.
Matches: 241; Runs: 10,500; Average: 50.72; 100s: 10; 50s: 71. World Cup: 2007, 2011, 2015.
In his three-year-old international career, the 25-year-old all-rounder has raised his bar and looks a complete ODI package. Hardik’s form is crucial to the balance of the side. With his IPL performances for Mumbai Indians, he proved that he has put the TV chat show controversy as a thing of the past.
Matches: 45; Runs: 731; Average: 29.24; 50s: 4; Wickets: 44. World Cup: Debut
The 28-year-old Tamil Nadu all-rounder rose to limelight by impressing in the opportunities he got in the away tours against Australia and New Zealand held earlier this year. He replicated that form in the last ODI series against Australia and could be placed as a strong contender for the number 4 spot. He also provides the option of an extra bowler in the final eleven.
Matches: 9; Runs: 165; Best score: 46; Average: 33; Wickets: 2. World Cup: Debut
The diminutive Jadhav proved to be a perfect finisher in the recent past. With India in search of a finisher after MS Dhoni likely to bat up the order, Jadhav can play this role. His ability to score the runs quickly not only provides solidarity to the batting order but also adds teeth in the death overs.
Matches: 59; Runs: 1174; Best Score: 120; Average: 43.48; 100s: 2; 50s: 5. World Cup: Debut
Bumrah has been a vital cog in Indian bowling attack in all the formats. His ability to swing the new ball and bowl accurate yorkers makes him one of the best in the business. He has time and again proved that he is a bowler with brains. He has become one of the best death-over specialist because of his pace and yorkers. His unorthodox bowling action makes it difficult for the batsmen.
Matches: 49; Wickets: 85; Best figures: 5/27; Average 22.15; Strike Rate: 29.4; World Cup: Debut
Having been part of the 2015 World Cup, the 28-year old Bengal pacer clearly knows how to deliver for the team when it matters the most. Shami was the second highest wicket-taker for India in 2015 edition with 17 scalps from seven matches. He returned to the ODI side this year and grabbed his chances with both hands.
Matches: 63; Wickets: 113; Best figures: 4/35; Average: 26.11. Strike rate: 28.5; World Cup: 2015
A veteran of over 100 matches, Bhuvneshwar Kumar started as a good swing bowler with medium pace. But he has increased his pace in the recent past and worked on his yorkers. His knuckle ball variation is one of his main weapons. Having played the previous World Cup in 2015 and with 118 wickets under his belt, his ability to swing the ball in English conditions will come in handy.
Matches: 105; Wickets: 118; Best Figures: 5/42; Average: 35.66; Strike Rate: 42.7. World Cup: 2015
The 24-year-old Chinaman bowler has improved leaps and bounds in the last two years. Though he played just over 44 matches, he has made his mark with his variations. Under Kohli’s captaincy, he has been given a long rope and justifying the move, he proved to be a great asset to the team. With not many Chinaman bowlers in the business, he is a prized player in the team.
Matches: 44; Wickets: 87; Best Figures: 6/25; Average: 21.74; Strike Rate: 26.4; World Cup: Debut
With his consistent performances, the 28-year-old attacking leg spinner has overshadowed the likes of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to become a bowling mainstay in the ODI team. Being known for his wicket-taking abilities, Chahal’s spell in the middle overs along with Kuldeep Yadav will be crucial for India’s chances in the World Cup.
Matches: 41; Wickets: 72; Best figures: 6/42; Average: 24.61; Strike rate: 30.1. World Cup: Debut
The southpaw made it to the Indian World Cup squad as a third spinner. His line-to-line bowling makes him a good option in English conditions, especially in the second half of the World Cup. He also has become a better batsman in the recent times contributing for team victories. Adding to his batting and bowling skills, Jadeja is one of the best fielders in the world. He will be a utility all-rounder in the side.
Matches: 151; Runs: 2035; Best Score: 87. Average: 29.92; 100s: 0; 50s: 10; World Cup: 2015
Compiled by Shiva Krishna Gundra and Nideesh Kumar