ICC World Cup 2019: Is it fair to consider the performances of Indian players in IPL 2019 for World Cup selection?
We are at the middle-stage of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019. At the same time, we are less than 50 days from the cricket’s pinnacle event, ICC World Cup 2019. With that, the deadline for the squad submission is not far away. As of now, New Zealand is the only team to have release their WC squad.
As we knew already, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will announce India’s WC squad on April 15, 2019. With that, plenty of surprising additions and omissions can be expected on coming Monday.
Earlier, Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, had stated that the performances in IPL would not influence WC selections. However, the scenario looks slightly different now. Plenty of players in the probable squad list are out of form in the ongoing IPL. While the competition for no.4 slot and back-up wicketkeeper is getting very intense at the end of every IPL match.
Before the limited-overs series against Australia, Ambati Rayudu was the front-runner for the no.4 position. However, at the end of that series, Rayudu’s place in the squad came under scrutiny due to a poor run of form. As a result, Lokesh Rahul (for both opening and no.4 slots), Vijay Shankar (for both all-rounder and no.4 slots), and even Virat Kohli are under consideration for the no.4 position.
Just like Rayudu, not so long ago Dinesh Karthik was considered as the ‘Finisher’ by team India. However, the sudden emergence of Rishabh Pant in the Test arena forced the selectors to drop DK and replace him with Pant in the recently concluded Australia series.
Among the list of players mentioned above (barring Kohli), only Rahul is in decent form in this year’s IPL. Though Vijay Shankar scored a brilliant 40 in the opening game of Sunrisers Hyderabad, he failed to produce similar results in the rest of the games. On the other side, Rayudu, who was very poor in the first six games of Chennai Super Kings, scored a fine half-century in CSK’s last match against Rajasthan Royals.
Though Rishabh Pant finds a place for himself in the top 10 run-getters list, his shot selection at the crucial junctures of a game which often results in losing his wicket will be a significant concern for team India. Meanwhile, his compatriot, Dinesh Karthik is consistently failing with the bat for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Barring Rahul, no other player has stamped his authority in this year’s IPL to fight for a place in the WC squad. However, selecting or dropping players for ODIs based on their form in T20s is always a double-edged sword move. A few minutes of ball thrashing in a format, which is often tough for bowlers, will never tell us the full potential of a player. Rishabh Pant’s hara-kiri dismissals in this year’s IPL is a testament for that.
Ignoring Rayudu for Rahul will be a harsh decision since Rayudu has been associated with the ODI setup consistently for the past six months. The same logic applies for the selection toss-up between DK and Pant. Besides, the vast experience of DK will be convenient for India in the WC.
'Form' is a significant and primary factor in the player selection process. However, it does not mean that the form of a player in one format will influence his selection in another format. Not everyone can be a Jos Buttler. Besides, the World Cup is not the right stage to take such high risks.
Let us hope that the selectors make some fair decisions and stick with the words of Virat Kohli.