Exploring various bowling combinations India can have for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
India looks the most formidable side and is considered one of the favourites to win the World Cup. Despite this, there have been two areas of concern for the Indian team. One is their middle order, especially the No. 4 position and second is the third seam bowling option. Indians seem to be happy with their No. 4 in the form of Rayadu, even though it isn't the best one. But they have certainly sorted their second problem.
Mohammed Shami who made a comeback to the ODI squad on the back of brilliant test performances has emerged as the biggest plus before the world cup. Indians were searching for the third seamer for a long time. They had tried Umesh Yadav, Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Chahar, invested a lot in Khaleel Ahmed but none solved the problem. Finally, Shami gets a go after a long time and boy did he deliver. He has looked India's best seamer so far in 2019. Shami in good rhythm is an asset to the team. He has all but booked his spot for the WC. But this has raised another issue.
Bumrah is an automatic selection in the team and India likes to operate with Pandya due to his all-round ability. So that leaves only one more spot for a pacer in the 11.
Bhuvi-Bumrah pair was considered the best one. Bumrah has matured more as a bowler now while Bhuvi was not at his peak after the injury last year. In the ODI's this year, Bhuvi is showing signs of returning to his forte. He was brilliant at the death in the second ODI against the Aussies. But Shami is giving wickets with the new ball which gets the spinners into play. Shami's death bowling could be a fragile area. Bhuvi's death bowling skills are what make his chances a tad better than Shami. So, more or less he would be the one sharing the new ball with Bumrah, which means India's highest wicket-taker from 2015 World Cup would be warming the benches. Or will Kohli play Jadeja as the all-rounder and give in-form Shami a place in the 11?
But what playing Jaddu goes is that it separates the deadly spin-duo of Kuldeep and Chahal who love to operate in tandem. We have seen in the past that when Kuldeep-Chahal play together they are at their peak and create havoc in the middle overs. Playing only one of the wrist-spinners, therefore, doesn't seem the right path. But, it's also not a hidden fact that Kuldeep becomes predictable as the series progresses. Batsmen seem to read him as they play him more. So, Kohli can also use Kuldeep as the secret weapon.
There could be another case which even though seems unlikely, makes way for the best possible bowling attack. India plays 5 proper bowlers in Bumrah, Bhuvi, Shami, Kuldeep and Chahal. But the question which flicker is that has India got the faith is their batting. It doesn't seem so. India lacks the firepower in their middle order, and they require the likes of Pandya or Jadeja to back them.
There are many questions India has to look at. Can they risk both leggies on batting beauties in England against a fearsome batting attack in every outing? Will they use Kuldeep as the surprise package? Can they accommodate Shami in the mix? Will they play only one of the wrist-spinners to make way for Shami? Would Kohli's most precious commodity be left out for Jadeja and team balance? Who between Shami or Bhuvi?
These are happy headaches for a captain but the team management needs to be careful with the playing 11. Even horses for courses strategy isn't a bad one. But Kohli has to be too harsh on Shami to leave him out after such impressive bowling performances.