The biggest talking point after India’s 15-member squad for the 2019 World Cup was announced on Monday has been the exclusion of Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu. As it turns out, these two players, along with fast-bowler Navdeep Saini, have been named as standbys for the showpiece event in England, according to a report on ESPNcricinfo.
The report says that the three players will only be drafted into the squad if the need arises, and that only Saini will fly to England with the team. The pacer, who is yet to make his international debut, is also one among the four net bowlers that Team India will be taking, along with Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed and Avesh Khan.
Although India’s squad for the World Cup doesn’t seem likely to change, this development will likely give hope to Rayudu and Pant, who were front-runners till recently, to give it their all in the remainder of the ongoing Indian Premier League.
After announcing the squad on Monday, chief selector MSK Prasad had offered a detailed explanation of why veteran wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik was picked ahead of Pant.
“It was definitely a case where we debated [at] length,” Prasad had said. “We all [agreed] that either Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik will come in only when [Dhoni] is injured. In an important game, wicketkeeping is also important. That’s the reason we went with Dinesh Karthik. That is the only reason why we went ahead with DK otherwise Pant was almost there. Pant is full of talent, he has time on his hands. Unfortunately he missed out.”
As far as Rayudu’s omission is concerned, Prasad said that the middle order batsman was pipped by Vijay Shankar because of the “three-dimensional” value the latter brings to the table.
“After the Champions Trophy , we tried quite a few people in that position,” Prasad said. “Tried quite a few middle-order batsmen, which also included Karthik, [Shreyas] Iyer and Manish Pandey. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu but Shankar gives three dimensions. He can bat, if conditions are overcast he can bowl, plus he is a fielder. We are looking at Shankar as a No 4 [option].
“The point that was discussed is that Vijay Shankar can bat at No 4, like Kedar Jadhav and we also have a role for KL somewhere at the top of the order. It all depends on the team management,” the former India wicketkeeper said.
While Pant has not officially spoken about his exclusion, Rayudu took to Twitter on Tuesday to take a thinly veiled dig at the selection of Shankar.