The cricket World Cup 2019 is still around a year and a half away but the preparations for the tournament have already begun. The teams are trying new combinations, grooming new players or improving the play of existing ones so that they play on their best foot in cricket’s biggest extravaganza. Indian skipper Virat Kohli already mentioned that he had been looking towards the future in trying to bring back the World Cup trophy.
Team India is currently in an evolving phase. The performances in domestic sessions will not guarantee anyone’s place on the side like it used to do before. Fitness is paramount in the new age Team India and those players who have not been able to mould themselves into the new parameters have been excluded from the side. India recently dethroned the Proteas to become the No 1 team in ICC ODI rankings.
Though it is too early to jump to conclusions but seeing the recent performances and the playing conditions in England & Wales, we at inUth predict who all may feature in Team India’s 15-man squad for World Cup 2019-
1. Virat Kohli (captain)
There are no surprises here. Kohli has been leading the Indian side for quite a while now. As a player, he has set the bar very high whether through his batting, fielding or overall fitness. He has also proved his worth as a captain as he recently equalled MS Dhoni’s record of captaining the most number of consecutive ODI wins.
2. MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper)
Dhoni is darkhorse of Indian cricket. He is fit and India don’t have a better wicketkeeper in the team at this point. He has the ability to finish matches and has the experience to cope with the pressure. Also, he helps Kohli on the field with his decision-making capabilities. The Indian skipper always looks towards Dhoni when he is in a dilemma of whether to take DRS during the play. Until and unless he suffers an injury or stuns everyone by taking retirement, there is no reason why he should not play in WC 2019, which might be his last 50-over ICC tournament.
3. Rohit Sharma (vice-captain)
Sharma’s fitness has improved drastically. He can run hard between the wickets or save himself a runout inside the 30-yard circle by putting in a dive. Rohit has justified his talent with his recent performances. He has been a formidable force in the top order and has enabled other batsmen to come and have a go at the bowlers. India don’t need to look further for an opener because Rohit has scored significant runs in ICC Champions Trophy 2017 while playing on English pitches.
4. Shikhar Dhawan
The man-in-form, Dhawan, is a tournament player. Somehow, he manages to turn on the beast mode in all major tournaments and delivers as required. In Champions Trophy 2017, he silenced his critics with his strokeplay on English pitches. He and Rohit compliment each other and have the capability to make a decent total early on in the game. Dhawan especially puts pressure on the bowlers early on in the innings.
5. Ajinkya Rahane
Rahane got the chance to feature on the Indian side when Dhawan had to take a break due to personal issues. Rahane has grabbed every opportunity he got and delivered for the team. He was the highest run-scorer for India on tour of West Indies. He also scored 3 fifties in the India vs Australia series and has the ability to build the innings. He can be the answer to India’s No 4 batsman woes. Also, he has a fantastic record while playing away from home.
6. Hardik Pandya
The all-rounder has shined through in the recent matches and has been touted as the next top-ranked all-rounder. He has become a matured cricketer with every innings he has played. His services with both bat and ball will give India an X-factor. His hard-hitting skills put pressure on the bowlers in the middle overs. Also, his bowling might allow India to play an extra batsman.
7. Kedar Jadhav
Jadhav can be touted as the man with a ‘golden arm’ for India. The equivalent of Michael Clarke of Australia, Jadhav can pitch in with a few overs when a strike bowler is having a bad day. The 32-year-old can finish the matches and also turn the momentum to India’s side in the final overs. He follows his instinct and plays his natural game.
8. Manish Pandey
Pandey has been in and out of the side for a while now. Barring a few innings, he has managed to bounce back. Pandey can be a regular in the side. He has shown maturity while leading the India A side and also in his batting in the middle order. Pandey did not get a chance in the Champions Trophy 2017 as he was replaced by Dinesh Karthik after an injury. Pandey is also a good contender for the No.4 slot.
9. KL Rahul
Kohli has been backing Rahul to play in the middle order. Though his performance does not strengthen his claim in the middle order, Rahul is known to play fast bowlers well. He is returning after a shoulder injury and taking his time to get back into the groove. Rahul might go in as a backup up middle order batsman as there is tough competition for the spot.
10. Ravichandran Ashwin
Ashwin has been out of India’s limited overs side since India’s tour of West Indies. He did not feature in limited overs series against either Sri Lanka or Australia. Though he was making the most of the opportunity playing for Worcestershire in County cricket. His County stint would have helped him gather how to spin the ball on English pitches. He performed with both bat and ball which might come in handy for India in WC 2019.
11. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar has become the new ‘swing-king’ for India. He can swing the ball both ways when the conditions allow. He has shown that he can be accurate and consistent in the powerplay overs. Bhuvneshwar’s death bowling was a highlight in the India vs Australia series. He is bound to deliver in English conditions. His batting in the lower order has improved as well, he might go down as one of India’s best bowling all-rounders.
12. Jasprit Bumrah
When you think of death bowling, Bumrah’s name is bound to come up. Bumrah has learned the art of death bowling from the best, that is, Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga. But the most impressive part is that Bumrah is learning to bowl with the new ball and that’s what makes him a go-to fast bowler. He has been focusing on the process and has improved his accuracy in the initial overs.
13. Mohammed Shami
It sounds a bit strange but Shami might act as a backup bowler in WC 2019 or Kohli might have to shuffle between the three fast bowlers with Pandya in the side. Shami has lethal pace and can trouble the batsmen with the hardball. He is expected to be picked over Umesh Yadav because of his accuracy.
14. Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep is a wicket-taker. He might go for runs but he will provide his team with the breakthroughs as well. Kuldeep is a brave bowler and is not afraid to pitch the ball up and invite the batsman to have a crack at him. He recently took a hat-trick against Australia. The Chinaman is hard to pick and might bamboozle those who have not played against him.
15. Yuzvendra Chahal
Having leg spinners on the side has become a trend nowadays. South Africa have Imran Tahir, England have Adil Rashid and Pakistan have Shadab Khan. Chahal is also a wicket-taking option who brings variety into the team. His spells with Kuldeep were game-changing in the India vs Australia series. Chahal has had experience against attacking batsmen in IPL. He is one of the underrated cricketers but has been coming in handy for India in the past few matches.
There have been players who missed out on our predicted squad by a margin including Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav and others. You can also share your squad for WC 2017 in the comments section as well.