We’ll be previewing every team in the World Cup over the next few weeks. Today we start with India, who are number 2 in the ICC ODI Team Rankings, and serious contenders for the trophy according to the 2019 Cricket World Cup odds. The bookies have India as one of the favourites and they should run England close. Most online cricket betting sites have India at 3/1 and England at 2/1.
However, India has made a few blunders with selection and experimentation in the lead up to the World Cup that has backfired and exposed major chinks in their armour.
India’s concerns start right at the top of the order. On paper and in terms of stats, S Dhawan and R Sharma are one of the most dangerous opening pairs in the world. The problem is that S Dhawan has been out of form for a while and R Sharma has run hot and cold in recent times.
Should India back their experience and past achievements and play them or should they experiment by bringing in KL Rahul or R Pant to open the batting? One thing is certain is that the openers will be tested by the swinging conditions in England and should they fail early, it will expose the middle order too quickly.
Number 4: Not Decided
This is without doubt that biggest concern for team India going into the World Cup. The selectors and coach have experimented with numerous players in recent ODI matches but they have still not fixed who the number 4 spot and that is because no one has managed to make this spot their own.
The selectors have tried M Pandey, S Iyer, MS Dhoni, K Jadhav, D Karthik, R Pant and V Shankar but there is still no indication as to who will get the final nod. A Rahane has also thrown his hat into the ring, saying that although he hasn’t featured in the ODI side of late, he has both the technique and the experience to succeed in England.
The 2019 IPL might give the likes of Rahane another opportunity to stake their claim for a World Cup berth.
Virat Kohli’s Captaincy
There are no questions when it comes to Kohli – the batsman. His record and achievements speak for themselves. However, there are questions when it comes to Kohli the captain. Some cricket pundits believe that he is not as innovative and aggressive as Rohit Sharma who is the vice-captain of the squad.
There’s no doubt that Kohli’s captaincy will be tested in England. This World Cup could make or break Virat Kohli as the captain of India and it will be important for him to rely on his senior players which include MS Dhoni and R Sharma.
One of the big talking points will no doubt be their World Cup match against Pakistan on June 16. India could end up forfeiting this match and conceding 2 points by not playing Pakistan in protest of the Pulwama terror attack in Feb 2019. The BCCI is yet to take a decision on the matter.
Strange Selections Could Hurt India
Strange selections have hurt team India in the last couple of years and it is imperative for Ravi Shastri and Kohli to get the playing eleven correct for each and every game. Kohli has the reputation for not playing the same eleven in consecutive games as he believes in the horses for courses concept.
The key decisions that team India will have to make will be the openers, number four, the all-rounders and which bowlers they go with. Do they risk playing H Pandya, V Shankar and K Jadhav in the same side? Do they risk playing two spinners in England or rely on K Jadhav to fulfil the role of the second spinner? Do they drop B Kumar and choose M Shami as the second seamer? Do they play R Pant or D Karthik or both in the same side?
These are some of the questions that the selectors should have answered before India departs to England. However, they haven’t done that and will have to figure things out at the World Cup.
How do you think India will do?