K.L. Rahul. (Photo: E.K. Sanjay)
The Team India, that is Team Bharat, squad for the World Cup seems to have picked itself. That is a reflection on how conservative the selectors have been in choosing an older set of tried and tested players. But then they needed no imagination to pick this combination though it does appear as if some players have been selected irrespective of their fitness or ODI form.
The presence of an injured K.L. Rahul is a clear enough indication that they pick him more as a talisman than based on form or performance in recent seasons. The return of Jasprit Bumrah from a major back surgery is, however, a shot in the arm for the home team that is the bookmakers’ first favourite for the cup.
The pace attack is to be manned by a performing trio plus Shardul Thakur as a not-first XI choice to begin with. It is in the spinning department, once a strength of Indian cricket, that a certain degree of sameness has crept in.
There is no off-spinner but then Team India has developed such a huge prejudice against Ravichandran Ashwin — as so blatantly displayed when he was left out of the playing XI even in the Test championship final — that he was unlikely to have been considered for the ODI World Cup.
There is no leg-spinner either though the in-form Kuldeep Yadav bowls the chinaman as well as the googly, which should lend variety from the orthodox left arm spin of Ravi Jadeja and Axar Patel. Yuz Chahal should consider himself unlucky to be left out in conditions in which he is known to revel.
Among the batsmen is Suryakumar Yadav, who is yet to prove himself in ODIs, but he has the innovativeness to shine in this longer format of white ball cricket, too. The rest are the usual suspects, including the coach’s namesake Rahul. There is no place yet for the young and promising crop of batsmen headed by Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma.
Team India’s chances are not to be discounted even if they lost in the semi-finals of the last two World Cups when their lack of performance in crunch games caught up with them. At home, India, or Bharat, is a redoubtable performer and will be the team to beat for the likes of defending champion England, Australia and Pakistan who should fancy themselves in this format.