India have announced their squad for next month’s World Cup in Australia and it is largely as expected. The selectors had already indicated that they expected to pick almost the same players as were chosen for the Asia Cup, and despite India’s failure to reach the final in Dubai, they have largely stuck to that.
That means Rohit Sharma will skipper the team with KL Rahul continuing as vice-captain despite his recent batting struggles.
Two men who missed that tournament through injury, Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel, have been included though. Both have since proved their fitness at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
Bumrah, in particular, has a big part to play. And if India are to do well in Australia, they will need him back to his best.
However, one man who will not be on the plane to Australia is star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. He sustained a knee injury in the group stages of the Asia Cup, which ruled him out of the Super Four stage of the tournament.
It had been hoped that it was just a short-term problem, but specialists have now confirmed that the injury is more serious than first thought and he has been ruled out of World Cup contention completely.
His contribution with bat, ball, and fielding will all be missed, as well as his experience of playing in clinch matches.
Shami among the reserves
Veteran pacer Mohammed Shami has been named among the reserves for the competition, along with batter Shreyas Iyer, and the two young bowlers Deepak Chahar and Ravi Bishnoi. They will all travel with the team to Australia, but will only be used if there are more injury problems.
Shami has not played a T20I since he appeared in the World Cup last year against Namibia. And in the past, he has been criticised for his high economy rate in this form of cricket.
Can India find their best team?
India’s comparative failure in the Asia Cup was attributed by many to the fact that they were constantly changing their team and rarely had a settled line-up as they tried to find their best batting and bowling combinations.
Now having decided on the final composition of the squad, it is time to start making some final decisions and then sticking to them. Teams that win World Cup are usually more, rather than less, the sum of their parts.
India will have plenty of practice before they play their first World Cup match, which they already know will be against the old enemy Pakistan on 23rd October in the Super Stage 12 of the competition.
Australia will first arrive to play three T20Is, beginning on 20th September in Mohali. The second match will take place three days later in Jamtha, and the series concludes on 25th September in Hyderabad.
No sooner have the Australians departed then the South Africans arrive for their own white ball tour.
That will begin with another three match T20I series, the first of which will take place in Thiruvananthapuram on 28th September.
The two teams will also play three ODIs, but are likely to field second string outfits in those games.
When they arrive in Australia itself, two warm-up matches have also been arranged with them playing Australia in Brisbane on 17th October and then New Zealand the following day.
By then, it will be known who they will be playing apart from Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa in their Super 12 group with the qualifying competition having resolved itself by then.
According to the latest odds, India – although the number one ranked T20I team in the world – are only second favourites to win the trophy behind the hosts and defending champions Australia.
No doubt, the disappointment of the Asia Cup will have dampened the expectations of some Indian cricket fans, but that in itself may not be a bad thing.
Free of the relentless pressure to win every time, it may lift the shackles off the team and help them play better.
What they do not need, though, are any injuries. So every time one of their main players feel a knock or suffer a strain in the remaining games, fingers will be crossed and breaths held.
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