What will be India’s squad for 2019 World Cup? (part 1)

Only 10 months remain (at the time of writing) for the start of the 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The preparation for every one of the 10 qualified teams has already begun. With that, the talk of which players will make the final, 15-man squads also can.

From India’s perspective, the selectors have a huge pool of players to choose from. But barring two or three spots at most, much of the squad for the World Cup picks itself.

Here, in part one, Cricfooty looks at the batsmen who are likely to make the squad.

Batsmen 

The ideal composition in a 15-man squad, from India’s perspective, is seven batsmen including MS Dhoni as the designated wicketkeeper-batsman, two all-rounders and six bowlers.

Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli are the absolute certainties. They will be the first three names on the team sheet if you go by the batting order. MS Dhoni is another player whose spot in the squad is in no doubt whatsoever.

Now, at least two of the spots up for grabs in the entire Indian squad are in the middle order.

Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Lokesh Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, and Suresh Raina have, at various times in the last 18 months, had the opportunity to cement their batting position and place in the side. Barring Rahane, who was inexplicably left out of the squad for the ODI series against England despite some good innings against South Africa, the six others remain the contenders for the two middle-order spots.

A look at what each of these players has done since Champions Trophy 2017:

Batsman Avg. bat position Innings Runs 50s/100s
K Jadhav No. 5 14 296 2/0
S Iyer No. 4 5 210 2/0
D Karthik No. 4 8 204 2/0
M Pandey No. 5 8 171 1/0
KL Rahul No. 4 5 37 0/0
S Raina No. 4 2 47 0/0

Jadhav has been a regular in the one-day side since January 2017, which is why he has had way more innings than the other four batsmen. He missed the three-match home ODI series against Sri Lanka because of a hamstring injury but was back in the squad for the South Africa ODI series. He then picked up a grade-2, left hamstring injury in the opening match of IPL 2018 (on April 7) and was ruled out for the entire season. This injury also ruled him out the ODI squad for England tour, with Lokesh Rahul and Ambati Rayudu getting the nod.

Jadhav is well capable of batting anywhere from Nos. 4 to 7, albeit much of his success has come at No. 6, where he has a batting average of 58.77 (at the time of writing) and both his ODI centuries have come at this position.

Jadhav’s versatility, considering that he’s also as an off-spinner who has taken 16 wickets in 21 innings at an impressive economy rate of 5.18, will be hard to overlook when the selectors sit down to name India’s 2019 World Cup squad.

Of the three batsmen who were left out of the squad for the England ODIs, Ajinkya Rahane seems to be one batsman who might not have a way back into the national limited-overs sides.

Pandey has had the second-most chances of the sextet mentioned above. When he has been given a run of matches, Pandey has come up with a couple of good knocks but barely been convincing since scoring an unbeaten 100 on his ODI debut.

Coming to the case of Dinesh Karthik, he has played the finisher’s role to perfection of late in T20 cricket for India and his IPL franchise (Kolkata Knight Riders). And, with Dhoni likely to be India’s No. 5, Karthik could well slot in at No. 6 or 7. While he’s not guaranteed of a spot in India’s 15-man World Cup squad yet, the balance he can lend to the side—with his ability to bat in the middle and lower middle order—could work in his favour.

Suresh Raina replaced Ambati Rayudu in the India squad for ODIs against England after the latter had failed to pass the yo-yo test. Raina played only one substantial knock in the two chances he had to bat in the ODI series and failed to make the most of his chance. But, with his boasting a similar skill set as Jadhav (a versatile middle-order batsman who can provide a handful of overs), Raina is likely to be an option for the selectors.

Rahul and Rayudu’s inclusion in the squad for England ODI series was a consequence of their prolific seasons with the bat for Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. With India set to play about 15 One-Day Internationals before the World Cup, this duo may well get their chances to showcase their suitability for the No. 4 spot in the Indian batting line-up.

Rahul was, maybe harshly, dropped for the final ODI against England after his failure at Lord’s and his performances in ODI cricket haven’t been as sound as his outings with the bat in T20I cricket. His last eight scores in ODI cricket are 8, 5, 11, 4, 17, 7, 9*, 0, the kind of run which is difficult inspire faith from the team management or the selectors even though this Karnataka batsman has shown promise and played only 11 ODIs to date.

Batsmen likely to be named in India’s World Cup 2019 squad

Batsman Bat position
Rohit Sharma No. 1
Shikhar Dhawan No. 2
Virat Kohli No. 3
MS Dhoni No. 4/5
Dinesh Karthik No. 4/5
Kedar Jadhav No. 6
Shreyas Iyer/KL Rahul/Ambati Rayudu/Manish Pandey No. 4/5

Read part two of this article.

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