Editor’s note: This article was originally published after the India’s limited overs series against West Indies. The 16-member squad for the ODIs in Australia have now been announced.

India are done playing one-day international cricket for 2018. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah headline another successful year in the 50-over format for the men in blue as the 2019 World Cup draws ever so closer.

We have already seen some interesting story-lines emerge from the road to the big-ticket event next year. From the emergence of Hardik Pandya, to the dominance of the wrist-spin twins and the conundrum of the No 4 slot, there is plenty to talk about the Indian squad’s build-up to the 10-team event in England and Wales as Kohli looks to win his first major ICC trophy.

In a new series, we look at the ladder, so to speak, of the potential Indian World Cup squad. This is a ranking of players, starting with those who are dead-certain to make the squad, and going down the rung in decreasing order of their chances of making it to the final 15. This list is not what the writer feels should be the final squad, but a guesstimate of what Kohli and the Indian selectors are likely to pick.

The first part was published ahead of the Asia Cup where we looked at the squad’s performances in England and where it placed them in the pecking order. In our second part in the series looking ahead of the ICC Men’s World Cup 2019, we see who made the moves up and down the ladder after the Asia Cup and the West Indies series.

(Note: The first few slots are guaranteed picks, and the order is purely subjective. Also, the first 11 of the list doesn’t necessarily have to be the first-choice playing XI.)

  1. Virat Kohli (1)

Recent form: Completed 10,000 runs in ODI cricket in 205 innings. Finished 1000 runs in 2018 in 11 innings. Three consecutive centuries — the first Indian to do so.

As MS Dhoni would say: Nothing to add.

2. Rohit Sharma (2)

A successful Asia Cup campaign as a batsman and the captain. Two centuries in five matches against West Indies, both of them 150-plus. Only behind Virat Kohli when it comes to making three-figure scores in ODIs in the last two years.

Once again MS Dhoni would say: Nothing to add.

3. Jasprit Bumrah (5)

If anything, in the recent past, Bumrah’s stock has risen when it comes to his importance for the Indian side in ODIs. When he is not playing, it’s invariably a struggle for his captain (Kohli or Rohit, irrespective of the format) to plug the leakage of runs in the death overs. When he plays, he impresses every single time. In the Asia Cup, his death-overs figures across four matches read: 9.5-0-29-7. He didn’t concede a single boundary. And when West Indies batsmen started attacking the Indian bowlers in the first ODI, who did the selectors call? Bumrah, of course, who returned and impressed yet again, even as Bhuvneshwar Kumar struggled for rhythm.

As things stand, Bumrah is India’s No. 1 bowler (well, he’s the world No 1 too) and the management need to wrap him in cotton wool and ensure he is fit and firing at the World Cup.

4. Kuldeep Yadav (3)

Kuldeep’s slip from third to fourth says more about the importance of Bumrah than anything else. Despite the odd decision of leaving him out of the XI for the first ODI (rested? dropped? who knows!) against Windies, he continues to remain a primary weapon for Kohli.

5. Hardik Pandya (4)

Nothing tells you about the value of a sportsperson more than when a captain points out his absence as one of the possible reasons for a defeat. And that’s what happened when India lost in the third ODI against West Indies in Pune. Kohli, who opted to use five specialist bowlers that day, was left ruing the lack of an all-rounder and Pandya, despite facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, was mentioned in the post-match chat as a player who will provide the balance when he is fit.

6. Shikhar Dhawan (6)

Dhawan’s still a vital cog of this dominant Indian batting lineup, as he showed in the final T20I against West Indies in Chennai, but there is a trend starting to emerge in his batting that he would do well do fix soon. When there are other opening batsmen eager to take up the slot (KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal to name a few), Dhawan doesn’t have too much room for error.

Conversion rate in 2018 (Min 10 innings of 30+)

Player No of innings with 30-plus scores No of innings with 50-plus scores (Hundreds) Conversion of 30-plus to 50-plus
Joe Root 10 8 (3) 80%
Virat Kohli 13 9 (6) 69.2%
Eoin Morgan 11 7 (0) 63.6%
Rahmat Shah  11 7 (1) 63.6%
Brendan Taylor 11 6 (2) 54.5%
Sikandar Raza  10 5 (0) 50%
Jonny Bairstow 13 6 (4) 46.1%
Shikhar Dhawan 14 5 (3) 35.7%
Jsaon Roy 12 4 (3) 33.3%

7. MS Dhoni (7)

Well, what now for MS Dhoni? His break from international cricket began from November 2, 2018, as India’s next ODI assignment isn’t until January 12, 2019 against Australia. After being left out of the T20I squads for the West Indies and Australia series – which doesn’t mean anything else other than him being left out of those squads, if India’s chief selector is to be believed — how match-sharp is Dhoni going to be for the Australia tour? And if he isn’t match-sharp, will he continue to be rusty, like he was in the ODI series against the Windies and in the Asia Cup? But for now, it’s status quo, in more ways than one. If Dhoni wants to stay put, he will stay put. Including on this ladder.

8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (9)

It’s been a mixed comeback for Bhuvi since his injury in England. He had two good outings and three wicket-less ones in the Asia Cup, including a below par performance against Pakistan when the teams met for the second time. He had a tricky outing against the West Indies on his comeback to the side for the third ODI before recovering somewhat for the next two. The consistency that Bhuvi is capable of at his best just seems to be eluding him of late, and Kohli would be hoping it’s just a phase. India really do need Bhuvi to complement Bumrah and add steel to their bowling attack.

9. Ambati Rayudu (14)

Enough has been written about Rayudu on these pages, especially since his captain gave him a full backing at the No 4 slot even before the impressive run of scores for the Hyderbad batsman in the Windies series. It looked like he was going to be a part of the World Cup plans even before the Asia Cup started but he has made his way up the pecking order quickly. Can he hold on?

10. Kedar Jadhav (13)

Much like Pandya, absence made Kohli’s heart grow fonder of Jadhav. Much like Pandya, Jadhav’s name was mentioned in the post-match chat at Pune after the defeat. After the controversy over his non-selection for that match, Jadhav promptly made his way back to the squad as the 16th member and proceeded to take his place in the XI at the expense of Rishabh Pant. His injury issues are now a matter of public debate, but Kohli seems to trust his all-round abilities. The Punekar must ensure he repays that faith with form and fitness.

11. Yuzvendra Chahal (8)

The stocks have fallen just a tad bit for India’s favourite chess-player-turned-cricketer, haven’t they? On recent occasions (in ODIs and T20Is), India’s first choice has been Kuldeep Yadav and the second, a slow left-arm spinner — Jadeja in the fourth and fifth ODIs against Windies and Krunal Pandya in the first and second T20Is. If India decide to go down the three pacers and two spinners route in England, there are early indications that a player with better batting and fielding skills than Chahal might make their way to the XI. No danger for his place in the squad, though.

12. KL Rahul (10)

The eternal third opener? Nothing’s happened in the past couple of months for Rahul to force his way back into the first-choice playing XI.

13. Khaleel Ahmed (23)

Well, that escalated quickly. It helps being an exponent of the art that not many Indians seem to excel at recently — left-arm seam bowling. Khaleel’s rise has been pretty spectacular (more on that here) and by virtue of being a natural variation in the lineup, it seems the youngster is doing enough to earn his ticket to England next summer.

“Two things that come straight to mind is the way Rayudu played and the way Khaleel bowled. Those two things is something that we were looking for a while; someone to back-up Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar)and Bumrah – someone to pick up wickets and bowl in good areas. Having a left-arm seamer gives you variation in the attack. Khaleel was really good and Rayudu of course grabbing his opportunities, batting with maturity, batting with composure. It is always good to plug in the areas that you are looking at.”      

— Virat Kohli, on India's biggest gains from the West Indies ODI series

14. Ravindra Jadeja (29)

Well, that escalated even more quickly. While Pandya’s injury made his stock stay steady, if not rise up, Axar Patel’s injury during the Asia Cup has seemingly shut the door on his World Cup hopes with Jadeja doing decently well in the opportunities that came his away, after 15 months in white ball wilderness. Two man-of-the-match awards for two four-wicket hauls since his comeback is a solid return.

It quite doesn’t seal his place in the World Cup squad, as Kohli was guarded in his response after the series win against Windies. But it sure does make him the favourite among three slow left-arm all-rounder options which we all know is a guarantee in the final 15-member squad.

“It depends. When Hardik (Pandya) is fit and fine to play, you have to see what is the combination you have to take in the World Cup. If Hardik is fit, Kedar becomes a spin option as well. Hardik becoming fit also gives you four seaming options, along with Kedar and one more spinner. You might need one more spin option. Jadeja becomes the key there with the team balance.”    

— Virat Kohi

More on Jadeja here.

15. Umesh Yadav (17)

Another one of the players to have moved from outside the top 15 to inside but only just about. The first two ODIs against West Indies was sort of an audition between Umesh and Mohammed Shami and it’s tough to judge who fared better, given that their familiar white-ball weaknesses were exposed. If anything, Shami might have had the better returns but going by Umesh’s re-selection for T20Is, it seems Kohli rates him higher than the Bengal pacer. This might still be Shardul Thakur’s position to lose if he regains form and fitness, but for now, Umesh seems to have earned it.

The Field's Ladder progression

Before Asia Cup Before India-Australia ODIs
1. Virat Kohli 1. Virat Kohli
2. Rohit Sharma 2. Rohit Sharma
3. Kuldeep Yadav 3. Jasprit Bumrah (5)
4. Hardik Pandya 4. Kuldeep Yadav (3)
5. Jasprit Bumrah 5. Hardik Pandya (4)
6. Shikhar Dhawan 6. Shikhar Dhawan (6)
7. MS Dhoni 7. MS Dhoni (7)
8. Yuzvendra Chahal 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (9)
9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9. Ambati Rayudu (14)
10. KL Rahul 10. Kedar Jadhav (13)
11. Dinesh Karthik 11. Yuzvendra Chahal (8)
12. Axar Patel 12. KL Rahul (10)
13. Kedar Jadhav 13. Khaleel Ahmed (23)
14. Ambati Rayudu 14. Ravindra Jadeja (29) 
15. Shardul Thakur 15. Umesh Yadav (17)
() - Previous position on the ladder

16. Rishabh Pant (19)

Pant didn’t get to do too much in his debut ODI series (41 runs from three innings) before being dropped for the final two games but finished the West Indies series with a bang with a match-turning knock in the third T20I. The talent is obviously there and he moves up a few places in the ladder, even if not on form, on his potential as a match-winner. If the selectors decide to take two wicket-keepers in the 15-member squad (not considering Rahul and Rayudu’s abilities to chip in if needed), it’s fair to say Pant has moved ahead of Dinesh Karthik.

17. Krunal Pandya (18)

Many believe it was high time this man donned India’s colours and it finally happened in the format he’s most comfortable with. A match-defining outing on his debut at the Eden Gardens earned him the plaudits, and showed the value of a genuine all-rounder option in the lower order. He will get three more chances in Australia in the T20Is to impress and possibly take Jadeja’s place. It’s a fascinating little contest in the making.

18. Shardul Thakur (15)

It was all going so well for Thakur. A regular place in the India squad, even if not a regular in the XI. The dream of earning a Test cap against West Indies. And then, not even two overs into his Test career, he pulled up with a groin injury and didn’t feature in the rest of the match in Hyderabad. Thakur’s absence led to a recall for Yadav and Mohammad Shami in white ball cricket but given their not-so-impressive outings, the Mumbaikar — though slipping a few places down — will still be in the reckoning when he returns from injury.

19. Manish Pandey (16)

A good run in the quadrangular series for India A before the Asia Cup got him on the squad for UAE but after just one match against Afghanistan where he looked all at sea, Pandey has just warmed the benches since. He was part of the ODI squads against West Indies but didn’t feature while an awkward finishing act in the third T20I didn’t do his case any good either. The eagerness to add Kedar Jadhav as the 16th member of the squad for the 4th and 5th ODIs when Pandey was still around tells you all you need to know about his standing in the side as a middle order option.

20. Siddharth Kaul (20)

Not much to say as Kaul stays put. He was recalled to the India squad for the final T20I against West Indies when Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav were rested but didn’t figure in the XI. He wasn’t part of the ODI squad when Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah were rested for the first two ODIs either. He did have a decent outing in the Vijay Hazare trophy, picking up 12 wickets in four matches at an average of 13.16 and strike rate of just above 15.

21. Dinesh Karthik (11)

A big drop for DK. When India were in the middle of an interesting run-chase in the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh, the Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper had a golden chance in the middle order to drop anchor and lead India to victory. Batting at No 4, had he delivered on the big stage, there is every chance to believe he might have moved ahead of Rayudu in the pecking order with the duo essentially auditioning for one spot in the lineup. But, in what would be the story of his life, he missed a full length delivery and trapped leg before wicket.

22. Mohammed Shami (30)

See Umesh Yadav above. It seems, for now, Shami will remain a red-ball bowler. But he sure has made a comeback into the reckoning.

23. Shreyas Iyer

Two centuries and two fifties in the six innings he batted for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. A sparkling century in a losing cause in the final of the Deodhar Trophy. The Mumbai captain is doing all he can after finding himself out of the India squad since the England tour. In an ideal world he should be challenging Ambati Rayudu for the No 4 spot but still somehow doesn’t figure in the equation. Like he admitted after the Deodhar Trophy final, all he can do is focus on making runs in the opportunities he gets and hope the selectors keep an eye on him. And the T20Is in Australia, should he get picked, is one of them.

24. Prithvi Shaw (25)

Since the last time we wrote this, Shaw has made his much-anticipated Test debut, scored an inevitable ton in his first innings as a senior India cricketer, won the man of the series award and finished it off by saying his dream is to play in the next World Cup. Are we there yet? Not quite, it’d seem but he is making the right noises.

25. Shubman Gill (35)

And the same could be said for Shaw’s teammate from the Under-19 World Cup in January (and the leading run-scorer ahead of his captain, if one might add). After a scintillating match-winning ton in a crucial Deodhar Trophy match that was overseen by selectors, he said he’s hopeful that a chance with India will soon be a reality, with a certain air of confidence. Watch out for this kid in the chances he gets from here on, could well be a dark horse to make it to the final 15.

26. Shahbaz Nadeem (-)

27. Ishan Kishan (-)

28. Vijay Shankar (24)

29. Mayank Agarwal (27)

30. Washington Sundar (-)

31. K Gowtham (31)

32. Shreyas Gopal (32)

33. Mohammed Siraj (34)

34. Ajinkya Rahane (-)

35. R Ashwin (28)