World Cup 2019: India's journey on the back of dark horses
- In the knockout fixtures, India’s chances will certainly be guided by the form of youngsters such as KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant.
India made their way into the World Cup 2019 with one definite goal in mind, which was to clinch yet another title, after they had won it last in 2011. While India have always been worthy title contenders, this World Cup 2019 squad, however, looked a little surprising with quite a few new faces.
With the announcement of the squad, it was pretty evident that the selection committee overlooked some experienced players to make room for young and fresh talent. The number four conundrum remained unsolved, as Ambati Rayudu failed to earn a spot in the side. Other World Cup heroes such as Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were left out as well.
While the poor form of these veterans undoubtedly led to their non-selection, it was still a bold move to include untested players like Vijay Shankar, KL Rahul and the two wrist spinners. While these players were certainly quality players, they were yet to be tested in high-pressure situations.
One of the biggest talking points post the World Cup squad announcement, the presence of Vijay Shankar in the 15-member squad was met by harsh criticism, since the all-rounder did not have a lot of game time.
In fact, Shankar’s ODI debut came only recently against Australia back in January. The selection of Shankar and KL Rahul above some other tried and tested players made little to no sense.
However, India seemed to have a laid out a solid plan with these players. Choosing to go with Rishabh Pant when Shikhar Dhawan picked up an injury reflected their intentions. Crafting a game plan against careful players like Rayudu or Rahane is easy. However, it is tough to handle quick hitters like Rishabh and hence, the dashing southpaw was picked as a replacement.
Apart from this, Vijay Shankar’s spell at Old Trafford against Pakistan defended his selection strongly. The Tamil Nadu player created history by taking a wicket from his first ball in the World Cup and broke an important partnership, strengthening his case for a spot in the team.
However, on the back of an unfortunate injury to Vijay Shankar at the net session, India opted to fly in Mayank Agarwal as his replacement. Agarwal may not have much international experience, but his domestic performances were an indication that he could perform well in the World Cup.
Rahul, in particular, has been a standout with 249 runs from seven matches at an average of 41.50. Promoted to the top of the order in the absence of Dhawan, Rahul has looked solid but will need to convert his starts into big scores.
Southpaw Rishabh Pant has already made a mark with 80 runs from two matches, including a 41-ball 48 against Bangladesh. With aggression his USP, Pant will be banked on to provide some fireworks in the slog overs.
In the knockout fixtures of this World Cup, India’s chances certainly depend heavily on dark horses like KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant and even Mayank Agarwal, besides experienced performers like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni.
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