Can we talk about the 2023 World Cup for a moment?
Not the ideal time to be talking about the 2023 World Cup while the momentum for 2019 is building. But, that's the beauty of us Indian cricket fans - we can't resist taking a peek into the future. If there was a time machine to land us in 2023, let's hope to hear that India is defending the title at home. Yes, for those who don't know, the 2023 World Cup is going to be held in India. Out of curiosity, one wonders who, from the current lot of players, could still go on to play the 2023 world cup?
Starting with the openers, Rohit Sharma is currently in the form of his life, one can assume that he will go on to play another world cup, perhaps, with 35-40 centuries under his ODI belt by then. But one wonders if age will catch up with the Talisman of cricket. To open the innings at 35 years of age, batting 40+ overs, scoring double centuries can potentially be a herculean task for any batsman.
For Shikhar Dhawan, the buck is likely to stop in the next 1-2 years. He will be passing the torch to his younger counterparts - Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw or perhaps by then, a more mature KL Rahul. In short, Dhawan will happily retire to spend quality time with his family and post pics on Instagram with Zoravar.
We all assume that our superstar Virat Kohli will be there for the 2023 world cup and also that he would have surpassed Tendulkar's record of 100 centuries by then, probably 110 centuries by 2023? But the worrying part is his heavy workload and the impact it would have had on his body by then. Though Kohli is not very vocal about it, the back issues seem to be a constant factor in his life and to lead India in all three formats of the game for 4 more years seems surreal. Kohli may take breaks more often or perhaps might even retire from one of the formats to persist for 2023 world cup.
Coming to our middle order, don't expect Ambati Rayudu to stick for very long after the 2019 world cup. Rayudu has already retired from domestic cricket and once the world cup is over, he may be content playing the IPL and scoring some big runs there for 1-2 years more. This brings us to one of the greatest cricketers of all time - M.S. Dhoni. All of us are expecting to bid farewell to Dhoni in England this year. By 2023, Dhoni would have vanished from all our lives, or perhaps, just at the brink of entering politics? Either ways, Rishabh Pant would have taken over his responsibilities completely in all three formats by then.
Expect Dinesh Karthik to have hung his boots much before 2023. Similar to Rayudu, Karthik is living the World Cup dream and will want to transform this dream into reality. Playing the World Cup is only justice to Karthik's talent. Meanwhile, the curious case of Kedar Jadhav is exciting and he is fast becoming a crowd favorite. Similar to Mike Hussey, Jadhav made his international debut quite late, hence, he may want to stick on to play another world cup though this is highly debatable considering his hamstring problems.
India's man of controversy - Hardik Pandya would have evolved as a cricketer by 2023, honing his all-round skills further, finishing off matches both with the bat and ball. And yes, we expect this because Pandya definitely seems to have pressed a reset button in his professional and personal life after drinking an expensive coffee recently. From an all-rounder perspective, Jadeja might continue to hang around with intermittent opportunities presented to him, though credit to him, with the limited chances he is given these days, he does show his worth in all three departments of the game.
Our bowling department has never been more exciting. But the million dollar question is, can the quality of bowling sustain up to 2023? Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami have had numerous fitness issues in the past, to expect them to be firing all cylinders in their 30s may be a stretch. Though their bowling skills may further improve in four years, they need the likes of Bharat Arun to ensure that they stay fit. There should be no doubt that Jaspreet Bumrah will be leading the pace attack in the 2023 World Cup, much similar to what he will be doing in 2019. Again, it is important for the management to ensure that this whiz kid's workload is carefully managed throughout his career. It will simply be an injustice to let Bumrah's potential be wasted due to fitness issues.
Historically, mystery spinners' shelf lives have been short. India would like to think of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as quality wrist spinners who bring a lot to the table than just mystery. The key for them to sustain till 2023 world cup would be to bowl a more consistent line and length with an evolving set of variations over time.
Other prolific names such as Rahane, Pujara, and Ashwin would hope to cement their legacy in the test arena as the doors to the ODI team are almost shut for them. While we have discussed many of the current players, another set of talented players will definitely emerge from domestic circuits in the next 4 years. India needs more Kohlis and Bumrahs to win a world cup.
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