Feb.27 (RICKETNMORE) - With the World Cup on the horizon, India went into the New Zealand tour looking to complete the puzzle that their wide range of options pose for them due to the plethora of options to be explored when the selectors sit down to select a 15-man squad for the 2019 World Cup. The upcoming WC has got the betting world on its toes, with bets at Leovegas being placed on a continuous basis. This WC should surely make for a compelling watch from the betting point of view.
Probably never have the Indian selectors experienced such a pleasant headache in the annals of Indian cricketing history, with a range of specialist batsmen, all-rounders and wicket-keepers to choose from whilst having proven world-class talent and experienced campaigners like Kohli and Dhoni to be at the helm and lead the team out for what will hopefully be a fruitful World Cup campaign and will bring the World Cup to India again since our last triumph in 2011. There are great hopes amongst the Indian faithful and every individual that forms part of Team India must be able to feel the weight of expectations that comes with being part of such a heavily-scrutinised sphere. Many a young player in the side, who have probably worked immensely hard across the past year in their respective Ranji Trophy sides to get into the Indian team and show their mettle, must be praying for the slightest chance they can get to showcase their talent and make bonafide stars out of themselves through the World Cup.
There were tons of experiments in this particular tour of New Zealand, especially in the ODI ranks, which saw us giving chances to a new batch of young players that’ll hopefully define our future and in the present, bolster our options and address any lingering issues that be. While the result of the experimentation wasn’t too bad- we won the ODI series 4-1 while ending up on the losing side in T20Is. This is clearly not too bad given that we were playing on foreign soil and probably didn’t care much for the outcome of these gambles for it seems that the coaches and selectors have their eyes peeled for the World Cup and are probably attempting to formulate a blueprint that’ll lead them to success. In modern day cricket, the specific strategic roles played by certain players are far more important than having a side full of world-class players. The selectors are probably looking at the needs of the side and trying to figure out ways in which some of the lingering issues seen in our tour of New Zealand. Although we do not really boast of 11 mercurial players, we definitely have our own fair share of match winners and fantastic players who should be able to turn up with the goods and make this a memorable World cup for us.
Let us take a look at what we took from our limited-overs tour of New Zealand, both in terms of positives and negatives, so that we can perhaps figure out the designs and persuasions which will go on to shape the squad dynamics to be at the World Cup.
Kedar Jadhav’s part-time bowling should come in more than handy
While the team isn’t really lacking when it comes to options to occupy the all-rounder spots and our spin options are looking pretty good. From Chahal to Jadeja to Pandya, there are plenty of spin and all-rounder options to go around. However, none of these options is very effective when it comes to bowling recurring overs and there are very few instances when they actually finish their quota of overs. While we seem to have enough specialist bowlers to go around, a handy part-time bowler will not do us too badly. One would like to hearken back to the days of having Sehwag, Ganguly and Tendulkar as our part-time bowling options and actually being pretty decent when it comes to stemming the run rate or taking vital wickets from time to time. Jadhav provides that along with his steady batting ability and composure. Jadhav not only provides a certain solidity to the middle order but also can support star players like Kohli and Dhoni. All in all, Jadhav’s part-time bowling and batting ability should be considered a necessity when the time comes around to pick the squad.
There’s plenty of fish in the wicket-keeping batsmen pond
As Indians, we must never take for granted the abundance of wicket-keeping batsmen we’ve got the pick of when there was a time when we’d have to rely on Rahul Dravid to keep the wickets. While Dravid is undoubtedly a legendary batsman, his wicket-keeping exploits weren’t exactly exemplary and he was for the most part only filling in and doing a job the Indian team didn’t quite have the requisite personnel for. Today, we have the likes of Saha, Karthik and irrepressible Rishabh Pant to choose from. While Pant’s wicket-keeping is evidently still quite raw and he could just be Rahul Dravid 2.0 behind the stumps, he has the ability to change games with his big hitting and his flexibility in terms of being able to bat from No. 3 to No. 7 should come in handy in case the team might want to employ him as a floater depending on the situation. Karthik might edge it though given how effective he has been in the middle order, while also being more experienced than Pant. It’s a shame that only 2 wicket-keeper batsmen can be taken on the tour since there would surely be other areas that need to be addressed.
Vijay Shankar could be an option
While Hardik Pandya is definitely a fixture of the Indian side and should be taken to the WC, Vijay Shankar could be included in the squad as a capable all-rounder is never to be taken for granted. He has solid batting ability and while he wasn’t exactly given much of a chance to bowl, his bowling could prove to be handy.
Shami is back at his best
As far as we can remember, Shami was a pretty good ODI bowler. However, in recent times, he was only played in 5 ODIs. Shami came back in the reckoning in the tour of Australia and New Zealand though, and ideally could find himself to be spearheading a mouth-watering pace trio of Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
Quite the star a couple of years back, Jadeja seems to have been pushed down the pecking order by the likes of Chahal and Yadav. Jadeja’s ability as an all-rounder is without a doubt a pretty handy weapon to have, not to mention his energy while fielding, but he seems to have lost a step or two since losing his place to the aforementioned youngsters. He could still be in the reckoning though—if the selectors decide to go for his experience.