2023 is packed with fixtures in the 50-over format, and Team India are currently getting ready to face off against New Zealand in a three-match ODI series commencing on Wednesday, January 18.
The 2023 World Cup, to be held in October-Novemeber, is already a big talking point. India, the hosts of the marquee event, will look to turn their ICC fortunes around, just like they did back in 2011. To do that, the Men in Blue need to zone in on the right personnel to lead them to glory, and some decisions aren't very straightforward as of now.
India's squad for New Zealand ODIs: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wk), Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KS Bharat (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik
Here are three selection dilemmas for Team India in ODI cricket.
#3 Kuldeep Yadav vs Yuzvendra Chahal
In the lead-up to a home World Cup, India will presumably want a frontline spinner in their playing XI. Names like Ravi Bishnoi and Rahul Chahar aren't in the mix right now, leaving the Men in Blue with just two wrist-spinning options.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal used to play in the same playing XI back in 2019, but cricket has changed a lot since then and batting depth has become paramount in white-ball cricket. Only one of the duo is likely to make the side, and neither has been able to nail down a spot in the XI over the last few years.
Kuldeep has perhaps edged ahead after his displays in the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka, but Chahal is still very much in the reckoning. India need to pick one of the two, and logic dictates that they will go with the left-armer.
#2 Washington Sundar vs Umran Malik
This is a problem caused by team combination since Washington Sundar and Umran Malik are two entirely different cricketers with barely anything in common. But India might not be able to field both in the playing XI.
With Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj being the two frontline pacers, Malik is locked in a battle with the likes of Mohammad Shami. His pace and middle-overs threat gives him the edge, and if India want a third specialist fast bowler, he seems to be the answer. But if they play three pacers along with a wrist-spinner, their batting would end at No. 7.
With Ravindra Jadeja/Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya rounding off the top seven, Washington Sundar at No. 8 could give India an extra spin option while lengthening the batting. The Men in Blue might have to choose between Malik and Sundar, depending upon the conditions and their requirements.
#1 Shubman Gill vs Ishan Kishan
This was a major selection dilemma for India ahead of the ODI series against Sri Lanka, and they justifiably went with Shubman Gill. The opener repaid their faith, finishing as the second-highest run-getter in the series and smacking a century in the third ODI.
The New Zealand ODIs, though, could throw up a few questions. With KL Rahul missing the assignment, Ishan Kishan is all set to slot into the middle order as the primary wicket-keeper. And if he continues his good ODI form and Gill disappoints, India might be tempted to ring in a change or two when Rahul returns.
Gill has been exemplary in his short ODI career so far, so he is ahead in this battle as of now. But Kishan can't be counted out.
Poll : Is it possible for India to field Kuldeep, Malik and Sundar in the same playing XI?