18.03.2019 Author: C.NAMASIVAYAMAfter the disappointing ODI series loss against Australia at home, the Indian selectors and the Indian team management are in a quandary as to the composition of the Indian squad for the World Cup.
The Australian series has brought in more problems than solutions. Suddenly one could feel the confusion setting in with no more ODIs to play before the World Cup to further experiment with.
As it stands now, about 10 players are almost assured of a place in the World Cup squad. They are Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, M.S. Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya. Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Jasprit Bumrah. Mohammad Shami. and Kuldeep Yadav.
Apart from the above players, Yuzvendra Chahal is almost there, though his recent performances were not so impressive.
After the Australian series, Amabti Rayadu, K.L. Rahul and Rishabh Pant have almost played themselves out of the squad with their mediocre performances. A lot of time has been invested on Ambati Rayadu as the prospective number four batsman without producing the desired results.
There is already talk about bringing back Ajinkya Rahane for the crucial number four spot. Sourav Ganguly has even gone on to the extent of suggesting the name of Chateshwar Pujarafor that spot. When the 'Dada' suggests something, it should make a lot of sense.
If one were to apply Ganguly’s same logic of Pujara, India can very well settle for Ishant Sharmaas the fourth seamer, perhaps in place of Chahal, instead of further wasting their time on the inclusion or not of a Umesh Yadav or a Khaleel Ahmed. But unfortunately for Team India, it is not realistic to include either Pujara or Ishant Sharma in the World Cup squad at this point in time. Nonetheless, they are not at all a bad option.
As far as Rahane is concerned, he could play the dual role of the reserve opener and reserve middle-order batsman. Add Dinesh Karthik into the mix, one could arrive at an evenhanded squad. It seems like Karthik might clinch his place in the squad sitting from the confines of his living room. To Karthik’s credit, he could play a similar role of Rahane in batting and valuable addition to the squad as a safe wicket-keeper.
The Australian ODI series was not after all a total disaster for Team India. Two players who got their chances in the absence of Hardik Pandya, have pretty much booked their places in the squad. This article is about those two players.
1 Ravindra JadejaRavindra Jadeja should thank the Indian team management for giving him an opportunity to play in four out of the five ODIs against Australia. In the first ODI at Hyderabad, Jadeja’s economical spell of 10-0-33-0 helped India to restrict Australia to a moderate total of 236.
In the second match at Nagpur, Jadeja first contributed with the bat scoring, 21 and adding 67 crucial runs with captain Kohli. When Kedar Jadhav and M.S. Dhoni got out off successive deliveries, India was staring at a total below 200.
But Australia had to go past Jadeja, who played the second fiddle role to his captain scoring 21 off 40 deliveries. Jadeja’s innings were really needed by India.
While on the field, Jadeja conceded a mere 48 runs in his 10 over spell and finished with the wicket of Shaun Marsh. But his major contribution to India’s victory came in the form of a direct-hit to catch the well-set Peter Handscomb short of the crease. That was one of the turning points of the match.
Though Jadeja was expensive with the ball in the third ODI at Ranchi, he made his presence felt with a score of 24 with the bat. After missing the fourth ODI, Jadeja finished the series with figures of two for 45 in 10 overs at Delhi.
With his consistent performance in the Australian series, Jadeja has consolidated his position in the team. He is one player who could always contribute to his team’s cause in some form or the other.
2 Vijay ShankarVijay Shankar has certainly enhanced his reputation in the ODI series against Australia. He is lucky to have got continuous opportunities in the absence of Hardik Pandya. But to his credit, he made use of those opportunities to impress upon the selectors and the team management.
In the four matches that he batted in the series against Australia, Shankar scored 46, 32, 26 & 16. His best innings came in the second ODI at Nagpur, when he scored 46 off 41 balls. Again bowling the last over of the innings, Shankar took two wickets in three balls to lead India to a dramatic win.
In the fourth ODI at Mohali, in a high-scoring match, Vijay Shankar was the most economical bowler for India, having conceded a mere 29 runs in his five overs.
Moreover, like Jadeja, Shankar showed a lot of passion and aggression on the field at the boundary line. His catch to dismiss Usman Khawaja in the first ODI was an extraordinary effort.
With no fourth seamer and reliable middle-order batsman in sight for Team India, ahead of the World Cup, Shankar could play that dual role to perfection. He hasn’t done any harm to his chances with his performances in the Australian series.
To sum it up, if both Ravindra Jadeja and Vijay Shankar are selected along with the 11 mentioned at the beginning of this article, that would make it 13. Dinesh Karthik could be the 14th man leaving the last place perhaps for Ajinkya Rahane