India’s Probable 15 Who Might be on the Flight to England in May
With ODI series win in Australia and New Zealand, Team India look like a well-oiled machinery ahead of the World Cup this year. But five ODIs are still to go before the team management sit down to name the final 15.
In these five ODIs against Australia at home, the Indian side will look to fine tune and plug some holes which were evident against New Zealand in the last two ODIs.
With less than 50 days from the squad announcement deadline, which is 23 April, Indian team management would like to get their combination right to live upto the billing of tournament favourites.
Here’s a look at the probable 15 who will be vying for India’s third World Cup triumph:
It doesn’t matter that the last twelve months have been a mixed bag for Dhawan. The south-paw will certainly continue to be among the first-choice openers for the side in the World Cup in England.
Shikhar Dhawan has always been the star for Team India in ICC tournaments. He was the highest run scorer for India in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.
One of the mainstays in India's batting order and part of India's top three, along with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, Dhawan's form at the top will be crucial for India's success in England.
Rohit Sharma (Vice-Captain)
Rohit Sharma's inclusion in the side for the World Cup has never been nor will be a topic of debate.
The vice-captain of the side is one of the most consistent performers in the side. Rohit has been in good nick in the recently-concluded ODI series against Australia and New Zealand.
In fact, over the years Rohit has formed a formidable batting partnership with Dhawan at the top of the batting order. Rohit's knack of playing long innings at a very high strike rate will be handy for his side in England.
Virat Kohli (Captain)
After Kapil Dev and MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli will be vying to be the third Indian skipper to win the World Cup.
There were never any question marks over his batting prowess. And now with ODI success in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Virat Kohli has proven his ability while leading the side too.
The skipper would be leading from the front with the bat and in England the team would be feeding from his confidence and form.
Rayudu in all probability would be playing at the much-debated number four position in the batting line-up at the World Cup. After experimenting for over two years, the team management looks like has zeroed upon Rayudu for batting at number four.
The Andhra Pradesh batsmen became a regular feature in the side only last June during the Asia Cup. After a disastrous ODI series in Australia, Rayudu returned strongly against New Zealand. His innings in the last ODI against Kiwis might clinch the deal for him ahead of the World Cup.
In the fourth ODI against New Zealand, it was Rayudu (90) who led India's recovery after the top three batsmen failed in the absence of Virat Kohli. With 190 runs at an average of 63.33, he finished as the top scorer in the ODI series.
Rayudu's adaptability and the maturity with which he has gone ahead with his innings would do a world of good to Team India in England if India's top three fail to consolidate.
Few decent performances in the upcoming ODI series against Australia will just reassure the team management's faith on him.
Rahul may not be among runs off-late, but he still can make it to the World Cup squad.
Along with Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul was also suspended and sent back from Australia. Since making his return to cricket, he has played for India A but without much success.
Rahul might get an opportunity to prove his worth one last time against Australia, when they land in India for a limited-over series.
Hailed as a talented batsman by Rahul Dravid, the India A coach refused to write off KL Rahul yet. With abundance of talent with the bat, KL will surely need a little bit of luck also to find his form and that ticket to London.
With what would be his last World Cup, MS Dhoni would like to go out on a high with a second 50-over World Cup triumph.
If his performance with the bat, prior to the Australian tour, was anything to go by there were high chances he wouldn't have made the cut. During this phase, Dhoni was guilty of wasting deliveries, batting at a low strike rate and no more capable of finishing matches for India.
Youngster Rishabh Pant was being looked upon as his worthy successor.
But like his matches, Dhoni waited right till the end to show his mettle. The three ODIs against Australia was revelatory, with Dhoni averaging an astounding 193.00 in those matches. Dhoni was to his ways of winning matches for India.
Continuing his envious glove work behind the stumps, Dhoni would like it to make it a memorable fourth World Cup for him.
Before Rayudu, Karthik was slated to fill the number four spot in the batting line-up. But Rayudu's promotion led to Karthik playing the role of a floater in the team.
Since his return to the Indian ODI side, he has batted at all positions starting from number three to number seven, with the final of the Nidahas Trophy being the highlight. Karthik won the tournament for India with a six off the last ball.
Technically sound with the bat, Karthik can rotate strike at will and fetch the odd boundary at regular intervals. His dynamism with the bat might be the trump card that team management would find handy in the English condition.
Having a specialist back-up wicket keeper in Karthik also justifies his presence on the plane to England.
What doesn't break you, makes you stronger. The statement holds true for Hardik Pandya, who roared his way back into the Indian ODI squad in New Zealand.
After being stretched out during the Asia Cup, Hardik's return to cricket received a huge blow after he was suspended and sent back from Australia due to his controversial remarks in 'Koffee with Karan' chat show.
Due to the suspension, Hardik went on to miss the entire three-match ODI series against Australia and the first two ODIs against New Zealand. After having a forgetful outing in his first two matches, Pandya came into his elements in the fifth and final ODI.
With India reeling at 190/6, Hardik smashed a quickfire 45 off 22 balls to help India set a 253-run target. His innings included two fours and five sixes. He followed his fireworks with the bat with a decent outing with ball, picking up crucial Kiwi wickets of Ross Taylor and Mitchell Santner.
Once again living upto the billing of India's numero uno all-rounder at the moment, Hardik can win India the match both with the bat and ball in hand. Apart from his cameos with the bat, he is quite capable of playing a long innings. With the ball, he can surely play the important role of the third seamer in the side.
Despite being bogged down by injuries for a greater part of 2018, Kedar Jadhav is certain to be a part of the World Cup squad.
His ability to bat down the order and surprise the opposition with his off-breaks might tilt the balance in his favour. An efficient fielder also, Jadhav's versatility might convince the team management to not leave him back for the World Cup.
After a mediocre series in New Zealand both with the bat and the ball, Jadhav might need to buck up for the five-match series against Australia starting later this month, if he wants to get in the groove before the World Cup.
Jadeja might just be lucky enough to make it to his second World Cup.
After a lacklustre outing against Australia in the three-match ODI series, Jadeja was dropped for the ODI series against New Zealand.
Handy with both bat and ball, Jadeja has justified his selection in the past. India surely won't mind another all-rounder along with Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav.
But at this moment, Jadeja firstly needs to get selected for the ODI series against Australia starting later this month.
One half of India’s spin duo, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav has made life difficult for opposition batsmen since his debut in 2017.
Kuldeep has picked up 77 wickets in 39 ODIs till now, which also includes a hat-trick.
With his wrist spin, Kuldeep will continue to be a menace for batsmen in England.
The other half of the Kul-Cha duo, Yuzvendra Chahal has been equally dominant against opposition batsmen in the recent years.
With batsmen failing to read his googlies and falling prey to his tossed ones, Chahal has sealed his place on the flight to England. In 40 ODIs till now, Chahal has picked up 71 wickets.
On the English pitches, Chahal’s abilities will be optimally utilised by Team India.
Bhuvneshwar has led the Indian pace attack for quite a sometime now and has done the job quite successfully. One of the most economical bowlers in the Indian side, consistency has been the key for Bhuvi. His ability to swing the ball both ways is his most potent weapon.
After playing not a single Test against Australia, Bhuvi came back strongly in the ODI series against Australia and then New Zealand to finish with 15 wickets in 8 matches.
With English pitches offering movement, Bhuvneshwar will be India's go to bowler during the World Cup.
Jasprit Bumrah's inclusion in the World Cup squad is a surety, just like the inclusion of captain Virat Kohli. Otherwise, why else would Bumrah would be rested for the ODI series against New Zealand as well as Australia.
Deemed as India's death-bowling specialist, Bumrah will be a menace for the opposition with his well-aimed yorkers and slow ones.
With 22 wickets in 9 ODIs last year, Bumrah will be India's most important bowling asset for India at World Cup, especially when a match goes down to the wire.
Shami’s inclusion in the World Cup squad is nothing less than a fairytale of sort.
He was India’s second highest wicket taker in the previous edition of the World Cup in 2015 with 16 wickets. Post the World Cup, Shami didn’t play a single ODI in 2016. In the last two years, he played only 5 ODIs.
Since making his comeback against West Indies in 2018, Shami has gone on to play ODIs in Australia and New Zealand. With 9 wickets, he was the joint-highest wicket taker against New Zealand in the five-match ODI series.
Going by the current form, Shami might just edge out Umesh Yadav for a spot in the Indian side during the World Cup.