New Delhi: The five wise men of Indian cricket, led by MSK Prasad, will meet in Mumbai on Monday to pick the squad for the 2019 World Cup in England. While most of the players pick themselves, thanks to their consistent show in recent times, there are three main areas of concern that the selectors need to take a call on when they sit down to pick the 15-member squad. One prickly issue is the much-debated number four slot; two, whether Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik go as the second wicket-keeper behind MS Dhoni; and, finally, will the team pick a fourth pacer or an additional third spinner, considering that the wickets will be on the slower side at this time of the year in England.
First things first. The team management may continue with the recent experiment of playing Vijay Shankar at the number four slot with Rahul being drafted as the official back-up opener as well as the answer to all the other top-order batting slots, if and when any of the other batsman in the top line-up is injured or out of form. Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar has also spoken about how Rahul can fit into any position in the batting order considering he is an opener and that his IPL form is something that cannot be ignored.
The rest of the batsmen pick themselves with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma starting at the top, followed by Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav. Hardik Pandya fits in as the all-rounder who will also be looked at as a finisher. Now, the dilemma of the second wicket-keeper. This is another position that the selectors need to resolve. They need to decide whether to pick Dinesh Karthik or Rishabh Pant. While Pant the batsman is seen to have the X-factor that is needed to provide the push in the later stages of the game, Karthik is considered a more experienced campaigner and one who would be able to keep calm on the big stage like the World Cup.
After this come the bowlers and while the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal pick themselves, the pace bowling attack will undoubtedly have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. But here comes the third and final issue. While there have been talks of adding the fourth pacer, some in the team management also feel that three pacers are enough as Pandya can always act as the fourth bowler. With the wickets likely to be more on the slower side in England during the World Cup (May to July), the team management is toying with the idea of dropping the idea of picking another pacer and drafting Ravindra Jadeja into the team.
While he is known to be a brilliant fielder, his batting will also ensure that the lower-order looks better on paper. If the team still does look at the extra pacer, Navdeep Saini could be the dark horse. But for now it looks like Jadeja is leading the race.
India’s 15-member World Cup Squad (likely): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik/Rishabh Pant.