We are into August and in a way exactly two months away from the start of the opening fixture of the 2023 ODI World Cup.
And yet, we still don't have a clue as to how the nucleus of the Indian playing eleven will look like at the quadrennial showpiece event to be hosted by the country.
Reams have been written about the process of experimentation which India has undertaken over the last few months and the disastrous consequences it can have.
There are no two ways about the fact that this will severely affect the team's preparations for the World Cup. However, the upcoming three-match T20I series in Ireland and the Asia Cup are likely to lend great clarity, especially the latter to be held in September in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
With regard to the Ireland T20Is, the biggest talking point alongside Jasprit Bumrah will be the form and performance of middle-order power hitter Sanju Samson, who is seen as a back-up wicket-keeper batsman choice alongside Ishan Kishan, in case of KL Rahul's inability to make it due to fitness issues.
Samson will have to come up with some stupendous batting exploits in the three opportunities he gets in Ireland to make a strong case and knock on the doors of the World Cup squad. This will perhaps be the most defining couple of months of Samson's career, which has not done justice to the powerhouse of talent that he possesses.
The Kerala and Rajasthan Royals batter will be closely watched by the selectors and the Indian team management as well as they close in on the squad.
The Indian pace spearhead will be back in action after almost 11 months and leading the side against Ireland. How Bumrah bowls and how much he bowls will be interesting to see and the selectors and Indian team management will hope he is warming up well and yet not overexerting himself.
Bumrah will have to be handled with care in the time leading up to the World Cup considering the immense value he adds to the team's chances.
India's fortunes at the World Cup from a bowling point of view will have a lot to do with how Bumrah shapes up. Although, there will be the spin factor with the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the mix, Bumrah in full flow upfront and at the death will be India's most potent weapon.
The August 30-September 17th event will be the clearest marker of where the Indian team stands with regard to the World Cup.
India would and India should have its playing eleven pretty much sorted by the time the continental event comes around.
We will get a fair idea of what is the status of Rahul's recovery and if he's playing the Asia Cup for sure, then that will be one box ticked. Shreyas Iyer's rehabilitation update will also be known by around the Asia Cup and based on these two critical positions, India will formulate their batting composition.
The Top 5 for the World Cup should be known at the Asia Cup and if Rahul and Iyer's rehab progress is not satisfactory, then calls regarding Kishan and Samson would have to be taken in Sri Lanka.
In my humble opinion, Samson and Kishan are both terrific players in their own right and are deserving players if they make it to the squad.
However, Samson is more suited at the No 4 position given he has been very consistent off late in that position and if he goes big in Ireland then he makes his position all the more stronger. Kishan is more used to the opener's slot so it may not be wise to try him out in the middle order out of nowhere at the World Cup.
All said and done, the Ireland series and more importantly the Asia Cup will provide answers to how Team India's XI will look like at the World Cup.