OPINION – Team India’s Best XI for the 2019 World Cup
The team management, the BCCI selection committee, Virat Kohli along with Ravi Shastri would have some headache to take care of before penning down team India’s best XI for the 2019 World Cup. England and Wales will host the much-awaited ten-team tournament, which begins on May 30th next year.
With Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav look sure to make it to the playing XI for almost every game, there are a few players whose place in the side remain to be under some threat. So, who are these players? For what slot they would be fighting for? Let’s have a brief look.
Team India’s best XI for the 2019 World Cup
With KL Rahul knocking the doors with promise and performances and Shikhar Dhawan having to prove himself as a top-notch batsman, primarily during the ICC events, captain Virat Kohli would face some trouble electing his best two openers among Rohit, Shikhar and KL.
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However, if the captain plans to go in with the experienced duo, KL’s chance of hitting the ground running would go for the toss. Now, where does Rahul bat then? At number three? Would Virat Kohli, aged 30 by then, alter his batting position where he had scored all those runs, and majority of his 35 ODI hundreds? I think, No. So in this scenario, which looks the likeliest to start with, KL Rahul would sit out of the playing XI (because making him bat at number four is just out of the question).
Someone settle the middle-order debate, Please!
For number four, five and six; could someone help the management in finding the right players for those slots, even if it means to walk out of the grave and offer a helping hand. Well, knowing the MSK-Prasad panel, they have tried a few people for those places in the past and were left unsatisfied, mostly. The list includes Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, and hell, Hardik Pandya batted at four as well.
The numbers would say an indifferent story because not one player got a chance to bat at the same position for more than a series. However, breaking down stats of each of the player, Ambati Rayudu leads the race for the number four slot. At that very position, the Hyderabad batsman averages nearly 40, whereas, Pandey had hit a hundred batting at four and averages 36.
However, former India captain, MS Dhoni has an average touching 53 batting at number four, while the numbers only reduce to one notch when he bats at five. So, how fitting would it be to have Rayudu at four and MS to follow him at five? With both having to play together in the past and had a brilliant stint in IPL 2018, the team management would not risk altering this combination.
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Thank God for Kedar, Pandya!!
If and only if both the players get fit in time for the 2019 World Cup in England, Virat and Shastri would not hesitate in keeping Jadhav at six and all-rounder, Hardik Pandya at seven.
Now, if the management were to take an alternative for those slots, they can use the firepower of Manish Pandey or even Suresh Raina batting lower down the order. Knowing their numbers would not sit well with the statement as mentioned above, their experience or form (if it remains good by then) would help them getting considered.
Why not Jadeja at seven?
Of course, you should ask why not Jadeja at number seven? Or even, where is Ravichandran Ashwin? Well, under Virat Kohli, the management had changed the setup long back; and now, they prefer a six-five combination. However, with the games scheduled to play in England, and stepping down the field with three spinners (include Chahal and Kuldeep, along with Jadeja) and just two fast bowlers, the idea seems to carry some risk along with it. So, just to make it look good on paper, and again, believing in the batting prowess of Hardik Pandya, Virat might include him ahead of Jadeja. As far as Ashwin is concerned, he is well out of the setup by now.
Bowlers – the game changers!!
Now, if everything goes with the plan, four bowlers would be Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Many can argue over the selection of two spinners playing under seaming conditions, but they must know that Virat trusts them a lot and they as a pair has done some real damage.
Please consider the South Africa and England series, where they had picked 33 wickets in six games and 11 wickets in three games, respectively.
So, here is team India’s best XI for the 2019 World Cup –
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal
Also, here is the list of likely reserve players –
Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav