The D-Day is here as India are all set to announce their 15-member provisional ODI World Cup 2023 squad on Tuesday, September 5. Chief selector Ajit Agarkar is likely to meet the press and announce the squad at 1:30 pm IST.
Ajit Agarkar flew to Sri Lanka last week to meet captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid and finalise the squad, which is also set to have a few reserve players, considering the injury woes of star players, including KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah.
Notably, the deadline to announce the provisional squad for the World Cup, starting October 5 in Ahmedabad, is September 5. Teams can make changes to the squads by September 28.
Despite making it to the Super 4s of Asia Cup 2023 with a win over Nepal on Monday, India have quite a few unanswered questions over the team composition for the World Cup. India’s games in the group stage were both affected by rain, denying the team an opportunity to get a clearer idea about their composition.
ROHIT’S BIG HINT
Speaking after India’s convincing win over Nepal on Monday, captain Rohit Sharma said India had an idea of their World Cup squad before heading to Sri Lanka and were sure that the 2 games in the group stage of the Asia Cup wouldn’t give them enough clarity about the possible names. And the rain interruptions certainly did not help, either.
“Look, when we came here, in the back of our minds, we knew what our 15 is going to be like. There were one or two spots that we wanted to have a look at, but we were very clear in our minds that the Asia Cup is not going to give us the complete picture of what the squad would be like, because there were only two games that we had to play,” Rohit said after winning the Player of the Match award for his unbeaten 74 vs Nepal.
WILL KL RAHUL MAKE THE CUT?
India’s major are of concern will be KL Rahul as the Lucknow Super Giants captain missed the first two games of the Asia Cup due to a groin strain. Rahul did not even travel with the squad to Sri Lanka as he stayed back at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru to work on his recovery and play simulation matches to prove his fitness.
As it turns out, KL Rahul has reportedly got the nod from the NCA physios and is likely to be included in the 15-man squad. Rahul is expected to join the Indian team in Sri Lanka for the Super Fours stages. India take on Pakistan in their first Super Fours match on Sunday, September 10 and Rahul has enough time to get into the rhythm.
However, India will also be aware that Ishan Kishan has proved his mettle at the No. 5 spot, playing a crucial knock against Pakistan in their Asia Cup opener. Slotting in the middle-order despite having found success as an opener, Ishan joined hands with Hardik Pandya and rescued India out of trouble after Pakistan pacers had run riot and left the Asian giants reeling at 66 for 4. Ishan hit 82 off just 81 balls in a free-flowing knock as he stitched a 138-run stand with Hardik Pandya.
Both Ishan and Rahul are set to be named in the 15-man squad but the toss-up between the two for the wicketkeeper-batter’s role will be a good headache to have for Rohit and Dravid in the buildup to the World Cup. Rahul’s selection despite his fitness woes only highlights the trust that the team management have in him.
Shreyas Iyer looked sharp on his return from injury against Pakistan while Jasprit Bumrah, despite not getting a bowl against Pakistan, proved his fitness in the tour of Ireland last month. Bumrah missed the game against Nepal as he returned home on paternity leave, but the pacer is going to be a key member of the World Cup squad.
NO PLACE FOR TILAK?
Selection committee chairman Ajit Agarkar said while announcing the Asia Cup squad that it was ‘a no-brainer’ that their World Cup squad would be based on the 17 picked for the continental tournament. Notably, Sanju Samson was picked as the traveling reserve for the Asia Cup due to a last-minute niggle that Rahul picked up during India’s 6-day preparatory camp in August in Alur.
India are set to name as many as 4 all-rounders — Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel – given all the chatter around the need for batting depth.
It is likely that Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna and Sanju Samson will be the ones to miss out on the final 15.
India are likely to continue to back Suryakumar Yadav despite the No. 1 T20I batters’ ordinary showing in ODIs.
Tilak Varma, who was picked as a left-field choice for the Asia Cup after his impressive T20I debut in the West Indies, is likely to miss out from the 15-man squad.
Fast bowler Prasidh Krishna, who made his comeback from a long injury layoff with an impressive showing on the tour of Ireland, is also likely to miss out from the 15-man squad.
There were talks about India going for an off-spinner in Washington Sundar or R Ashwin for the World Cup, but the Asia Cup squad hinted that the team management was not looking in that direction.
India will be tempted to pick reserve players for the 15-man squad. A couple of backup options, considering the injury concerns, will not be a bad idea.
It remains to be seen whether of not Yuzvendra Chahal would be considered as a backup option for the spin trio of Jadeja, Axar and Kuldeep Yadav after having missed the cut to the Asia Cup squad.
POSSIBLE WORLD CUP SQUAD
Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper).
Possible backups: Prasidh Krishna, Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal