The Indian cricket selectors have delivered. They have picked a very balanced Team India for the World Cup and it is up to the cricketers to give it their best shot. A study of form pertinent to one-day international cricket suggested the selectors had a few more choices than the 15 they picked. What was interesting in the way they made their picks was the cricketing logic behind each one of it and the chief selector was not chary of disclosing it at the media conference.
Only a few slots were up for grabs a batsman or two for the number four slot, a second wicket-keeper and back-up seamer. They chose Dinesh Karthik as the reserve keeper as glove skills will be needed if ever Dhoni has to skip a game. Young Rishabh Pant, despite having the batting credentials to be a future star, misses out because his glovework is a bit scratchy.
The selectors may have gambled in falling back on a further spin option by including Ravindra Jadeja as an all-rounder rather than a fourth specialist seamer. In picking Vijay Shankar for the number four slot, they have given the team the utility of his medium pace which could be enhanced if early English conditions are conducive to swing and seam. He could be a fifth seam bowling option behind the three specialist quicks and Hardik Pandya, who is the handy fourth seamer.
It would appear that this will be the starting XI for Team India in their first game — Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Shankar, Dhoni, Jadhav, Pandya, Kuldeep, Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah and Shami.
The combination is ideally balanced with plenty of bowling options to fall back on even within the first XI. Even a very proficient Team India, ranked second in ODIs, would still need oodles of luck in the semi-finals and final to win the World Cup. The men with the best skills have been picked....