ICC World Cup Squad: Karthik, Shankar, Rahul Make The Cut While Pant & Rayudu Miss Out
Dinesh Karthik, who was dropped from India’s squad that took on the visiting Australian side, found a place in the 15 as the backup keeper while Vijay Shankar will be entrusted with the 4th position in the lineup according to Chief of Selection Committee MSK Prasad. KL Rahul also made it to the squad as the backup opener on the back of his strong IPL performance.
The BCCI today announced the list of 15 men who will travel to England to win the World Cup that India last won eight years ago, under MS Dhoni’s leadership. Virat Kohli will lead the side and will be looking to win his first ICC trophy, after his heartbreaking near miss in the ICC Champions Trophy, two years ago.
Karthik’s inclusion meant that 22 year-old Rishabh Pant missed out on the flight to England and Shankar at no. 4 meant curtains for Ambati Rayudu’s chances of taking that spot in the World Cup. The selection committee went for Karthik ahead of Pant for the former’s cleaner glove work.
However, Karthik’s experience might have tilted the scales in his favour. The wicket keeper batsman has developed as a fine finisher in the last few years and has shown that he has the necessary calm to take the team over the line. Moreover, leading KKR has also been a sobering experience for the Tamil Nadu cricketer and it seems to have made him a more mature athlete.
Pant, who was expected to make it to the squad by most, has his impetuousness and poor shot selection to blame for missing the cut. While he did hit two away Test tons in 2018, in the limited opportunities that the left hander has gotten in the ODI side, he has failed to make a mark.
Vijay Shankar made the most of the chances he received in Hardik Pandya’s absence with team India and has found the favour of the selectors, based on those performances. Yet, to entrust a cricketer with such a massive responsibility who has less than 10 ODIs and not even a single half century under his belt seems like a big punt. Even in the IPL, the right hander began in sparkling form before fizzling out towards the middle of the tournament.
Even though the all-rounder has strong List A credentials, his performances with the senior team haven’t been equally impressive. If he got the nod ahead of Rayudu since he can contribute with the ball as well, it must be mentioned that Shankar has hardly been trusted with ball by skipper Kohli and has only two wickets to show from his 9 ODIs, both of which came in the same match.
Despite the squad being announced, there remains a lot of questions, especially in the middle order, for India. In fact, India's first XI looks far from being a settled one.
Moreover, India's long tail will also be a reason of worry for the management as none of India's premium bowlers, barring Bhuvi, inspire any sort of confidence with the bat. Before the flight to England takes off, India will hope none of the chosen 15 sustain an injury in the IPL, a major part of which is still left.