How Asia Cup, Australia series will decide India's ODI World Cup squad

Having left with just one series, comprising only three matches, to gear up for the Asia Cup, followed by the ODI World Cup a month later, the tour of West Indies had provided head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma to test their bench strength and give more opportunities to the back-up options. Hence the skipper himself and Virat Kohli had taken a backseat to give players like Sanju Samson, Axar Patel and Ruturaj Gaikwad a go in the contest. And while the experimentation and Dravid’s explanation for it did not sit well with most of the viewers and experts, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja had revealed that India have their squad for the World Cup figured out.

India’s bowler Kuldeep Yadav celebrates with teammates after he bowled West Indies’ Shimron Hetmyer during the second ODI cricket match (AP)

The batting combination is largely fixed although India continue to fret over the recovery of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, whose inclusion would automatically make the team among the top contenders for the elusive trophy, leaving the selection headache down to just two spots. In fact, according to a report in PTI, the team management have narrowed it down to 18-19 players for the 50-over event, although as per the ICC rules, they will have top pick only 15 of them.

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What does the ICC rule say about squad submission for ODI World Cup?

According to the rules of the ICC pertaining to the 50-over World Cup, all teams will have to submit a preliminary squad within September 5. However, a final squad of just 15 players has to be submitted by September 27 and the team management has the luxury of making as many changes possible between the initial and final submission. If any team wants to make a change after September 28, they will have to get the approval from the ICC.

As of Tuesday, August 8, only Australia have submitted their initial squad, although it comprises of 18 players implying that three of them will be removed from the final team.

Why Asia Cup and Australia series will decide India’s World Cup team?

India and Australia have the luxury of experimenting till the final date to make changes to their squad as the three-match ODI series between them will finish on September 27. The contest will begin from September 22 onwards, five days after the Asia Cup final, with matches in Mohali, Indore and Baroda.

While Australia will be carrying their 18-member preliminary World Cup squad to India before taking their final call, India are likely to carry their lot of 16-18 players for both Asia Cup and the home series against Pat Cummins-led side before zeroing in on the final team.

What are India’s two selection headaches?

According to PTI, here is what India’s preliminary squad for Asia Cup looks like: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya (vc), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohmmed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Surykumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Axar Patel, Sanju Samson, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mukesh Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal.

The probable squad hints towards two selection headaches – the extra seamer’s slot between Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat and the other third spinner’s spot between Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will be certainties for the pace department with India still having a concern over Jasprit Bumrah’s fitness, which will depend immensely on the T20I series in Ireland. The team management will only be hoping that the star bowler, coming back from a lower-back stress fracture incurred in September last year, can push himself through four-overs spell in the shortest format followed by at least eight overs in the ODIs in the Asia Cup. Hardik Pandya would automatically fill up the fourth fast bowler’s slot, leaving the battle down to Thakur and Unadkat for the back-up pace option.

Thakur has a better chance of making the final squad given his ability to bat down the order while having proven his mettle in the West Indies series with eight wickets in three ODIs. Meanwhile, Unadkat has the advantage by virtue of being the only left-handed seamer in the squad. They do have Arshdeep Singh as well, but he has been shunted to the Asian Games team, along with Mukesh Kumar, who has been brilliant in the West Indies tour as well.

For the position of a third spinner, Axar stands ahead owing to his all-round abilities, although it matches with Ravindra Jadeja, who will be the first-choice option. Also, team management might have hinted towards going ahead with the left-arm spinner as well given their treatment towards Chahal in the ODI series against West Indies.

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Source: Hindustan Times

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