India 2023 World Cup Squad Selection Dilemma: India announced their provisional 15-member World Cup squad which was devoid of any surprises. Most of the squad members picked themselves as the team wore a familiar look. It was the Asia Cup squad that India zeroed down in with the squad getting pruned to 15-members from 17. Everyone who got a game rose up to the occasion. India was looking at a problem of plenty, especially in their middle order.
India 2023 World Cup Squad Selection Dilemma
The contenders: KL Rahul
KL Rahul summoned up at the last moment in the Super Four game against Pakistan scored a brilliant century. He more or less sealed his spot as India’s first-choice keeper batsman for the World Cup. Rahul before his injury had shown the game needed for shepherding the middle order. He though played at number 4 in the Asia Cup.
Rahul made a crucial 39 against Sri Lanka to ensure India of the final spot. He followed it up with two crucial knocks in the series against Australia. Rahul has nailed his spot in the team. It will be ideal if he bats at number 4 in the World Cup too.
The Shreyas vs Surya story:
It has once again come down to these two batters ahead of a mega event. Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav have been jostling for the same spot since the 2021 T20 World Cup. India has preferred the versatility of Surya over Iyer’s consistency. It may once again boil down to what the team needs for the World Cup. Iyer, batting at number 3, scored a timely century against Australia at Indore reminding selectors of his class.
In the same game, Surya batting at number 6 scored an unbeaten 71 at a strike rate of close to 200. If India plays Iyer, he will need to fit in at 4 and Rahul will be pushed to number 5. The side will thereby have an array of consistent batters but will lack an X-factor around it. If Surya is included ahead of Iyer, he could slot in at number 6 and don the role of a finisher. His inclusion might prove to be a difference between a 320 score and a 350+ score.
Where does that leave Ishan Kishan?
Ishan Kishan’s best place to excel in the white ball game is at the top of the order. Despite India wanting a left-hander in the middle to negate the spin threat of opponents, Kishan currently is behind the queue. India can accommodate him as a backup opener and a backup middle-order batter if things go south during the World Cup.
The other selection quandary:
Axar Patel’s story of late has been his vital contributions with the bat lower down the order. He won a couple of games for the side all on his own with the bat. But his wicket-taking abilities have taken a hit. India did pick Axar Patel in the squad as the third spinner. But it was more for his all-round ability than his spin prowess. He got a fair run in the Asia Cup. But an untimely injury in the game against Bangladesh once again opened up a spot in the squad.
The Ashwin comeback:
Washington Sundar who played the Asia Cup final as Axar’s replacement hardly got to do anything. The selectors rung in a surprise picking Ravichandran Ashwin for the 3-match ODI series against Australia. He returned with figures of 1-47 in his 10 overs on a flat deck in Mohali in the first game. But Ashwin produced a game-changing spell in the second game at Indore picking up a 3-wicket haul. He has made a strong case for his inclusion even if Axar Patel is declared fit for the World Cup.
The selection of specialists:
In all fairness, 13 out of the 15 names that India picked for the World Cup are specialists. The selection of Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel was more on the basis of what they offer collectively as compared to their core skill. Thakur has had a forgettable series so far and Patel is yet to fully recover from the wrist injury. Ashwin showed what core skills can do and even Prasidh Krishna displayed his bowling prowess. India might be tempted to ring in these two changes when they finalize the World Cup squad of 15.