3 Possible Starting XIs for India at ICC World Cup 2019
There are about 200 days to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England, and cricket fans are waiting with bated breath for the showpiece event.
India have been playing consistently well in all formats of the game since the last World Cup, but have been particularly dominant in the 50 over format. A lot of this has to do with the scintillating form of the top 3 - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli - who have all been topping the run charts in the past few years.
These three have been backed up well by Ambati Rayudu in recent times, who has all but solved India's number 4 quandary and sealed his spot in the playing XI. The bowling also has been excellent in the past couple of years with wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, and fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah all picking up wickets consistently.
Kohli will etch his name in history and solidify his legacy should he win this World Cup for India. But while the Men in Blue have been winning most of their matches, there are a few chinks in their armor that have been exposed on and off by varied oppositions.
Dhoni's batting form is a concern. The all-rounder's spot is up for grabs. The top 4 batsmen's inability to roll the arms, unlike Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly or Virender Sehwag, restricts the bowling options.
Most of the bowlers can barely hold a bat apart from Bhuvneshwar, so they have a long long tail - as was seen in the recent defeat to West Indies. English pitches may also not be conducive to playing two wrist spinners, so Kohli needs to get his combination right.
Keeping this in mind, seven players should be considered sure-shot selections for the starting XI, which leaves four spots up for grabs. Some may find it intriguing that I have left out Dhoni from this list of seven, but that is because he has been affecting the balance with his poor batting record in the last year or so.
Automatic Picks - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah.
For the remaining spots, here's a look at three alternative options that can be considered:
# Option 1
Starting XI - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedhar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah.
A fit Hardik Pandya should straight away slot into the starting XI as he gives you options with both the bat and the ball. India don't have another medium pace bowling all rounder - Vijay Shankar was the outsider for this spot but his performances have been below par at the international level.
Pandya on the other hand has the ability to win matches on his own. He gives the batting depth and provides a much needed seam bowling alternative.
This would also allow the team to play both Kuldeep and Chahal - either of whom can spin the game India's way against any opposition and on any pitch. Jadhav can also pitch in with his off spin should Pandya or any of the other bowlers have a bad day.
In a tournament like the World Cup, you just can't go in with only five bowlers.