World Cup 2019: Three selection questions about India's playing XI in their tournament opener
World Cup 2019 is on and the battle has begun among the 10 teams to lift the coveted trophy. India after being thrashed by New Zealand in their first warm-up game but did well to correct the mistakes and won the second warm-up match against Bangladesh; regaining the confidence ahead of their first game of the tournament.
India is yet to start their campaign which will start with the game against South Africa on 5th June 2019. After the performance of the players in the two warm-up matches most of the slots have already been filled. However, after the performances of players like KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, who were initially thought to warm the bench at the starting of the tournament and the injury of Kedar Jadhav, there are few slots where changes may be expected.
Here are three such selections about which everyone is curious ahead of India's first game of the tournament:
#1 Who is India's No. 4 - Rahul or Shankar?
Selectors preferred Vijay Shankar to Ambati Rayudu for World Cup 2019 and stated that Shankar will be India's No. 4 to start with in the tournament. However, a lot have happened since then.
While KL Rahul played some fine knocks in IPL 2019, Shankar failed to make the season a successful one to justify his selection. Moreover, Shankar's injury during practice session ruled him out of India's first warm-up game and he failed to justify his selection in their second warm-up game where he scored only 2 runs off 7 balls.
On the other hand, Rahul was sent to bat at No. 4 in both the warm-up games. He too failed in the first warm-up match against New Zealand but showed his class in the second game against Bangladesh where he steadied Indian innings building a partnership of 164 runs in 128 balls with MS Dhoni (113 runs off 78 balls) and went on to score a fine century (108 runs off 99 balls), making his case stronger for the No. 4 slot.
#2 Who will replace Jadhav if he does not recover fully ?
Kedar Jadhav has already cemented his place at No. 6 in the playing XI. An aggressive batsman and a bowler who can provide crucial breakthroughs, Jadhav has displayed some outstanding performances in the past with bat and ball to take India home on several occasions. But unfortunately his fragile fitness and the shoulder injury which he sustained in IPL 2019 made things complicated for him and India.
Although Jadhav is seen practicing batting in the nets, there is still doubt about his availability for the first game. India surely will not take the risk of sending him to the field in a hurry and may think of resting him for a few more games and play Dinesh Karthik at No. 6.
Karthik has established himself as a fine finisher in the last couple of years and Jadhav's unavailability may open the door for him. Despite being a wicket-keeper, Karthik is a good fielder too and with the amount of experience he has, he surely is a contender for No. 6.
There is also a good chance that India may opt to play Vijay Shankar at No. 6 in case of Jadhav's unavailability. Shankar is an able batsman and playing him in place of Jadhav will provide India an extra bowling option which will be helpful if a bowler has an off day in the match.
#3 Two wrist spinners or one with Jadeja?
Since Champions Trophy 2017, India have opted for wrist spinners in the form of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and the duo have done an outstanding job so far. Although Kuldeep's form hasn't been that great recently, he can still prove to be a lethal weapon for India.
Chahal has been in fine form of late and is ready for the mega event. With Kuldeep, he is expected to lead the spin attack. However, the return of Ravindra Jadeja in the squad and his performance since Asia Cup 2018 have made India to about new spin combinations. Jadeja was outstanding with his all-round performance in both the warm-up games and now makes a strong case for his inclusion in the playing XI.
Jadeja is a proper 10-over spinner and his ability to bat added with lightning quick fielding skills make him a perfect fit at no.8 in the batting lineup, which will make India's batting lineup deep enough.It will be interesting to see with which spin combination India will start the tournament.
While the rest of the slots in the playing XI are almost cemented barring any injury, there will be a tough contest for these three selections. We all hope that India will play the best possible options to make it a formidable side without any loose bolt.
Also read - World cup winners captains list