ICC World Cup 2019: Indian squad selection sounds like a mixed bag of balance and lost opportunity
The Indian squad for the World Cup 2019 which is going to start next in England and Wales was announced earlier today. It is a 15-member squad with Virat Kohli as the captain and Rohit Sharma as the vice-captain.
Although the squad has mostly expected names, there are a few surprise inclusions too.
Hardik Pandya has been selected as the all-rounder for the team and he deserves the spot irrespective of his off-screen persona and controversies. KL Rahul has been selected as a reserve opener, but there is a chance that he might play in the most discussed No. 4 position.
The surprise inclusion was that of Vijay Shankar. There will be a lot of debate regarding his selection because of his lack of experience at the international level. But he is regarded by chief selector MSK Prasad as a three-dimensional player who can bat, bowl and is a fantastic mover on the field too; that was indirectly the reason for the exclusion of Ambati Rayudu.
Dinesh Karthik has got a call-up because of his wicket-keeping skills which will be a valuable addition in case MS Dhoni sits out a few matches here and there. The inclusion of Karthik was an intelligent choice considering he has some experience of playing in varied conditions.
For the reserve wicketkeeper slot they chose experience over talent, which is why Risabh Pant was not chosen in the 15-member squad. Pant still has a long way to go but if he continues to perform in the same way as he has in recent Test matches, he will sure be selected for the next World Cup.
Now coming to the bowlers, the three obvious choices were Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. And since all these three bowlers are perfectly fit and healthy, they were selected without any hesitation.
In the spin department, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were selected along with Ravindra Jadeja as an extra spinner who can bat as well.
The selectors feel that the team they are sending for the World Cup is well-balanced as it has the right mix of experience and talent. The team looks really strong on paper as well.
That said, there was an argument to be made for the selection of a fourth seamer, maybe someone like Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav. The pitches in England would have suited a tall bowler like Ishant, especially if one of the three frontline pacers got injured.
Instead of having three spinners (four, if Jadhav is also included), the selectors could have opted for four pacers and three spinners, which would have been an ideal combination considering the conditions in England.
The exclusion of Rayudu is also debatable. Many believe he could have been a better No. 4 batsman than Rahul or Jadhav or even Dhoni for that matter.
Finally, Vijay Shankar was deemed as a "batsman who can bowl", which is always an added advantage to any team. But it remains to be seen how he will perform on foreign soil against some of the best batsmen / bowlers in the world.