World Cup 2019: India's five open slots
With the World Cup of 2019 than a year away, every limited overs game played in the world seems to be viewed from that context. This is especially true for India, a team which, despite its dominance in recent times, has several questions it needs to answer with regard to squad selection.
Out of the fifteen players who will travel to England for the World Cup, ten of them seem to already be decided (assuming no fitness concerns). These players are as follows: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Based on the composition of India's previous squads, it can be reasonably inferred that the remaining five slots will consist of three batsmen and two bowlers/bowling all-rounders.
This slideshow looks at the potential contenders to fill these five slots.
Contenders: KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer
KL Rahul, who has been designated as the side's backup opener, is extremely likely to feature in the fifteen-member party which will travel to England. Further, his ability to bat at three, which he has done on a few occasions, further adds to his value and likelihood of featuring in the squad.
Even though he has been in and out of the side, Dinesh Karthik is a reasonable shout to be in the squad. Since his comeback to ODI cricket last year, he has only played 8 matches; however, despite this, he has over 60, a factor worth noting.
Moreover, his exploits in T20 cricket - most notably in the Nidahas Trophy earlier this year - and ability to serve as a backup wicketkeeper, significantly increase his chances of featuring in the side.
However, having primarily been used at the number 4 slot by India, he faces stiff competition from Rayudu, who, after an impressive return to international cricket, is widely considered the favourite to occupy the number 4 slot.
While the aforementioned batsmen - Rahul, Karthik, and Rayudu - are almost certainly the frontrunners to occupy the remaining three batting slots, none of these slots have been sealed yet. Manish Pandey, who has been in sublime form for India 'A' in recent times, still remains a viable contender.
Along with that, many have called for the inclusion of youngsters Shreyas Iyer and, more notably, Rishabh Pant to the side. Lastly, with the recall of several players over the age of thirty, the selectors have made it clear that the door is still open for the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina.