With the ODI World Cup in India two and a half months away and the schedule announced recently, the buzz of the mega event has already begun and Indian fans are excited. India have not won a major ICC trophy in a decade and the wait now has gone on for too long.
The last time India broke their World Cup drought was on home soil in 2011 and with the biggest cricketing event set to be hosted by India exclusively this year, Indian fans are gung-ho about the team’s chances and prospects.
What marks out the Indian cricket fan from the rest of the pack is his/her never-ending support and faith in the prospects of the team. The Indian team will definitely go into this year’s World Cup as one of the major favourites considering they will be playing on home soil and they have a team that has the potential to go all the way.
Talking about prospects, one has to first analyze the composition of the likely squad that would be selected for the World Cup.
Top of the order would most likely see the pair of skipper Rohit Sharma and the hugely improved Shubman Gill open the batting. Ishan Kishan is the third-choice opener that India will be relying on in case of injury concerns to Rohit or Gill. Depending on KL Rahul’s fitness, a call would be taken perhaps but Rahul might find a slot in the middle or lower middle order and could occupy the wicket-keeper batsman’s slot in the absence of a yet-to-recover Rishabh Pant.
The second choice wicket-keeper’s slot would most likely go to Sanju Samson and his hitting ability alongside keeping skills could land him a place in the squad. The middle-order is fairly set with the iconic Virat Kohli at No 3 as is expected. The No 4 and 5 slots would oscillate between Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav depending on the day, opposition, fitness and conditions.
With Rahul likely to find a slot somewhere in the middle, the all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja will make it to the squad to provide the much needed firepower towards the fag end of the innings. Shardul Thakur will be the second seam-bowling all-rounder option for India behind Pandya. Axar Patel could also be in the mix as the spin-bowling all-rounder alongside Jadeja.
With home conditions likely to favour spinners in a big way, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are likely to be India’s mainstays in the playing 11. Ravichandran Ashwin could take up the space as a back-up choice for the spin bowling all-rounder’s slot although his batting credentials in ODIs are not all that impressive.
The Number 10 and 11 slots would be taken up by Jasprit Bumrah, if fit and ready, and his long-time pace partner Mohammad Shami. This is more or less likely to be the playing eleven based on various factors like fitness, conditions, opposition etc. In the pace department, Mohammad Siraj is definitely in the reckoning as the third fast-bowling choice behind Bumrah and Shami.
Jasprit Bumrah's fitness:
A lot of India’s chances at the World Cup will hinge on Jasprit Bumrah’s availability for the crunch games. The Mumbai Indians pacer has been training hard at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and is recovering well.
He is expected to make a comeback for the Ireland series in August but the selectors and team management are in no mood to rush him and might think of Asia Cup as a better option. Bumrah’s workload is likely to be monitored at the Asia Cup by the management as they would want him to be fresh and supremely fit come the World Cup in October.
There are no easy games at the World Cup but India’s biggest and toughest would be within one week of them starting their campaign. On October 8th, India lock horns with Australia in Chennai in what is likely to be a cracker of an encounter against their old rivals. Two well-balanced sides going against each other but India would hold the edge in spin-friendly Chennai with better adjustment to weather and conditions.
The game on October 15th in Ahmedabad is the one the whole of India would be eagerly looking forward to and it will be a high-pressure one. India vs Pakistan at the world’s biggest cricket stadium will test players from both sides but India have an enviable 7-0 record against arch-rivals Pakistan in the ODI World Cups and they would be looking to maintain a clean slate.
There are matches against the likes of Afghanistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc and India would be looking to come out on top in these games based on the balance of their squad and the advantage of the conditions. The match against New Zealand could be tricky as the Kiwis have traditionally been India’s nemesis in ICC competitions for years now.
The Rohit Sharma-led squad will in all likelihood make it to the semifinals and from thereon they have the potential to go on and clinch the coveted Cup. With the skipper having won five IPL titles with Mumbai Indians, he could well be the lucky charm India badly needs as they seek the ICC title they have been yearning for a while now.
Probable India squad for 2023 World Cup:
Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ishan Kishan, Axar Patel.
Standbys: Sanju Samson, R Ashwin, Rinku Singh, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh.