The Indian selectors have announced the 30-man team for the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, to be staged from February 2015 onwards. There have been some major omissions from the 2011 World Cup when India were the champions – players who were once indispensable to the team have been shut out and as of now it seems that there is very little chance that they will ever get to wear an Indian shirt. They are Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir. Meanwhile, other players such as Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra and Yusuf Pathan are also on their way out from national contention.
Batsmen and keepers
Batting is going to be India’s main strength Down Under and the selectors have preserved the core of the team that has been relatively successful in the 50 over form. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are all experienced and form the crux of the batting unit. Much will depend on them if India is to repeat its glorious days of 2011.
Giving them company in the 30 man team are Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Manoj Tiwary and Wriddhiman Saha, who is regarded as the finest keeper in the country by many. They have already been playing for India for some time now and doing so with varied degrees of success.
They will be accompanied by newbies Kedhar Jadhav, Samson and Manish Pandey. While Jadhav has played a One Day game against Bangladesh Samson and Pandey are yet to do so. These are fairly promising players though and have performed well for India A and their respective first class teams.
The 30 man team for the World Cup features several players who are adept with the ball and the bat in their hands. Stuart Binny is one player who is pretty good with the bat but can also make a decent contribution with his dibbly-dobbly medium pace. In fact, he has one of the best bowling records by an Indian in a One Day game. Perhaps Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who has been playing for a long time and doing so creditably in the domestic circuit, could have been given a chance as well but his age went against him. The number of players who can swing it with their bat, while being good bowlers, is significant though.
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are the main spinners and will probably be on the flight to Australia. Amit Mishra may not have too many runs in the One Day format but he has a fifty to his credit in Test cricket and his first class batting average exceeds 20, which shows that he can hold a bat. Besides, he is the best leg spinner in the Indian subcontinent. Akshar Patel has already proved himself in a holding role and has also helped India win a couple of matches with the bat. Karn Sharma may yet be unable to reproduce his performance in domestic cricket on the international stage but he can be regarded as an exciting prospect. Parvez Rasool may have played only a single One Day game but he is a capable performer in domestic cricket and can thus be regarded as a fine inclusion.
Coming to seam bowling allrounders Bhuvneshwar Kumar tops the list. Even though he is not the quickest going around, he has exceptional control and can bowl well in the death. He is also a good fielder and can bat well given a chance. Dhawal Kulkarni is the other gentleman of his ilk and also shares the qualities of Bhuvneshwar, even if his death bowling credentials have not been established properly at the international level.
This is where someone like Irfan Pathan or Praveen Kumar could have given Dhoni some added options. Rishi Dhawan – a young and upcoming quick bowling allrounder for Himachal Pradesh and Kings XI Punjab – too could have been selected. He has already played for India A as well.
As far as quick bowling is concerned, Ishant Sharma will be the leader of the pack. He is the most experienced and thus will be expected to play a major role in the World Cup. Mohammed Shami is someone who is well suited to One Day cricket with his swing, which comes with good pace and his ability to bowl well at the death with the searing yorkers and splendid slower balls.
Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are two bowlers who can give you a lot of pace but their control is questionable. Mohit Sharma and Ashok Dinda are also decent bowlers. Sharma is also a specialist in death bowling with his change ups and possesses a good yorker as well. Dinda can bowl well at death too and is capable of operating at fast medium speeds, something which helped him to be preferred over someone like Abhimanyu Mithun who is in good form in domestic 50 over cricket.
The major exclusion from this list is Vinay Kumar who had been favored by Dhoni even a year back but now finds himself out of contention. Kuldeep Yadav, a chinaman spinner, is the sole specialist spinner in the side.
The selectors need to be given credit for sticking with players who have featured for India in the last couple of years. Most of them are regulars, and thus certainties but even the reserves have been playing for the national team in some form or the other or have been selected for the same. They have been around the dressing room for considerable periods of time, are properly acquainted with the culture and strategies and thus can be expected to a decent job if called on for some reason or the other.