The national selectors on Monday announced the 15-member Indian squad for the ICC World Cup 2019, starting May 30. KL Rahul and Dinesh Karthik have made the cut while Rishabh Pant misses out.
— BCCI (@BCCI) April 15, 2019
DK beat Pant in the race to become the second wicket-keeper in the Indian team for the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales. The five wise men of Indian cricket, led by M.S.K. Prasad, met in Mumbai on Monday and picked the 15-member squad. Vijay Shankar goes to the showpiece event as the number four batsman and Ravindra Jadeja has been picked as the third spinner ahead of a fourth pacer. KL Rahul joins in as the back-up opener.
While skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, M.S. Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were automatic picks, there were three main areas of concern that the selectors needed to take a call on.
The much-debated number four slot, whether Pant or Karthik go as the second wicket-keeper behind Dhoni and finally, if the team will 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.
The current Indian team management and selectors have often spoken about continuity and that is exactly what they have done with regards to the team for the World Cup. Having tried Shankar at the top, they have backed him in the squad. The fact that Shankar continued to bat at number three or four in this edition of the IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad was another hint that the team management had asked him to settled down to the idea of batting at the top.
Karthik has eclipsed Pant to the second wicket-keeper's spot. Even though Karthik failed to do much in the 12th edition of the cash-rich league, the team management had already said they aren't looking at it.
However, BCCI chief selector Prasad has made it clear that wicketkeeper-batsman Karthik will not automatically start in the playing XI in the upcoming World Cup and will only get a chance when Dhoni gets injured.
Prasad said that Karthik's wicket-keeping skills and ability to handle pressure resulted in him being picked over Pant.
"We were all in unison that either Pant or DK will come in only when Mahi is injured. In an important game, wicket-keeping is also important. That's the reason we went with Dinesh Karthik," he said.
The chief selector also heaped praises on Pant and said that the left-handed batsman is full of talent. "Pant is full of talent. There's a lot of time for him. It's just unfortunate that he's missed out. Under pressure, we have seen Dinesh Karthik finishing matches. That scored for him," Prasad stated.
In the bowling department too, it was a case of backing an in-form Jadeja because not only has he done well for Chennai Super Kings, but also, wickets are expected to be on the slower side in during the showpiece event. More importantly, Jadeja brings with him solidarity at the lower end of the batting and not to forget his brilliance on the field.
Pandya, having missed the series against Australia, due to issues with his core is back and fits in as the all-rounder who will also be looked at as the finisher.
Speaking over Shankar's inclusion, Prasad said that the 26-year-old all-rounder from Tamil Nadu gives "three dimensions" to the team.
"After the Champions Trophy, we have tried quite a few middle-order batsmen, which also included Karthik, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu but Vijay Shankar gives three dimensions. He can bat, if the conditions are overcast he can bowl, plus he is a fielder. We are looking at Vijay Shankar as a number four batsman. Now we have plenty of options for that slot."
K.L. Rahul, who has been included as the reserve opener, can bat in the middle order too, if the team management needs, stated the BCCI chief selector.
Four additional medium pacers will travel to England with the team as practice net bowlers, said Prasad.
India will begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.
India’s 15-member squad for the ICC World Cup: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami
With IANS inputs