PARTAB RAMCHAND | 16 APRIL, 2019
Indian Squad Has The Right Balance
India’s record in the World Cup in England is a strange mixture of heights of glory and depths of humiliation. On one hand you have the gloriously unexpected triumph of ``Kapil’s Devil’s’’ in 1983.
On the other you have the dismal failures of 1975, 1979 and 1999. India were still novices in limited overs cricket in the first two editions and won just one match (against East Africa) while losing five. However there is no excuse for the below par showing in 1999 when India finished bottom of the table in the Super Six and failed to make the semifinals.
All the three squads were picked keeping in mind conditions in England and by the same token it must be said that by and large the MSK Prasad led selection committee has done a reasonable job in picking the 15-member squad for the World Cup. It is impossible for every cricket fan to be happy with the selection of any squad but there will be very few who will disagree with this selection.
In any case among the fringe players there were always going to be the lucky ones and the unlucky ones and here Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul were the lucky ones and Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu the unlucky ones.
The squad has the right balance when it comes to batsmen and utility players, seamers and spinners. The team’s think tank has a lot of options and that is a healthy sign. The playing eleven can consist of six batsmen, two utility players and three bowlers or five batsmen, three utility players and three bowlers if there is need for an extra bowling option.
The selection of as many as four bits and pieces players in Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar brings back happy memories of the triumphant 1983 squad in England with that Indian team having Kapil Dev, Madanlal, Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri in the ranks. No comparison of course but it is always good to have players who can contribute with both bat and ball.
There was never going to be any doubt as to the batting. The extra batsman’s choice was always going to be between Rahul and Rayudu and the former’s ability to be a back-up opener probably gave him the selectors’ nod. Also Rayudu’s form had taken a bit of hit of late. And a line-up of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Karthik has a lot of experience and that is a handy quality to have.
There may be a question mark still over the vexed No 4 slot but hopefully that problem will be solved as the matches are played as there are many options and a minimum of nine games though at the moment the front runner for the spot is Vijay Shankar.
The choice of the bowlers was never going to pose any problem. The three seam bowlers were always going to be Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shammi and the two specialist spinners were always going to be Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. It is now left to them to perform up to expectations.
The back-up bowling with the presence of so many utility players presents an embarrassment of riches of sorts and indeed the bowling more than the batting could well hold the key as to how far India will progress in the competition.
Overall it is a good side virtually the best the selectors could have picked. Whether it is strong enough to win the trophy is another matter altogether.